Learning About Loose Parts
The philospy of Loose Parts is the foundation of our approach to learning at levels, including preschool, at Canopy Kids. Here is an overview of what Loose Parts and why we believe in it.
What do they do?
Loose Parts simply create a richer learning environment for children. When a space contains Loose Parts, this environment becomes rich and stimulating, therefore, children are more likely to interact with each other and will discover multiple ways to play, new ways of thinking, and freedom to create. “They become more creative and flexible in their thinking while satisfying their ever-growing curiosity and love for learning” (Daly, Beloglovsky. 2015).
What’s the value?
Children prefer Loose Parts. Children will tire of toys with one sole purpose. A slide is a slide, but a stick can be a magic wand, or a fishing pole. Jean Piaget’s development theory states that children need to be able to move around and manipulate their environment to maximize learning (Piaget, 1952). When children are able to take risks and control their play, they are less likely to have accidents and get in trouble. When children are using Loose Parts to construct or arrive at one common goal, there becomes teamwork and focus.
Loose Parts deepen critical thinking.
Critical thinking is investigating, questioning, hypothesizing, analyzing, and asking questions of all kinds. Children will critically think to challenge assumptions, and come up with solutions. When provided with a variety of open-ended items, children will experiment, construct, analyze, work together, form relationships, and then take everything apart and then start all over again, because with Loose Parts, and open-ended materials, sometimes it’s more about the process than the result.
Loose Parts promote emergent and creative thinking.
This seems obvious, but it’s a whole other thing to see it in action. Watching children think of ways to use items, that are different each and every day is setting them up to invent items we don’t have yet, to solve problems we don’t know exist yet (Fisch and McLeod 2012). In order for us to raise intelligent children, their work – that is to play - must be to play with items and objects that deepen their problem solving skills, teach them communication, and turn them into critical and creative thinkers.
Loose Parts are all inclusive!
There is no right and wrong way to use Loose Parts! Every skill level, all genders and abilities can use Loose Parts successfully. Children will confidence and will learn independence. They will discover their strengths and feel successful.
Loose Parts nurture wide ranges of play.
Loose Parts can be organized and set up in ways so that children immerse their whole selves. There may be a station with building materials that require gross motor function development with wheels, blocks, blankets, buckets and ropes. There may be a wet section with a water table. There may be a dry section with rocks, pinecones, feathers, tubes and spools. A science section with magnifying glasses, rulers, and small weigh scales. There can be a creative section with canvas, paints, markers, and stencils. There can be a quiet section with books and comfortable chairs. All of these stations require a different skill for a child to use and develop.
Now you may be thinking, how will they learn math and language?
As children play with Loose Parts, they learn to sort, categorize. They form patterns with item such as bottle caps and rocks and you will often here them counting and sequencing as they arrange things by color or texture for example. Language and Literacy – Children will learn to engage in rich conversations and story telling with peers and adults. Children will use new language and sentence development as they describe objects and engage in productive arguments. “Ample, continuous use of Loose Parts helps children improve their memories, vocabularies, and literacy” (Daly, Beloglovsky 2015).
Art is more than just painting a picture. In a Loose Parts setting, children use art to express emotions through a wide variety of objects and materials. An open-ended art area offers a child freedom and the tools necessary for telling their stories. Loose Parts allow children to extend their ideas. Friedrich Froebel believed that children benefit from making their own art and enjoying the art of others. He considered art activities important parts of supporting the “full and all-sided development of children” (Daly, Beloglovsky 2015). And although there can be a designated art area, its equally important to set up items that encourage creative expression everywhere.
Loose Parts help children investigate the non-living world by exploring their physical properties and by constructing ideas and explanations. Children will test properties such as force, inertia, weight volume and distance with certain objects. They will experiment with gravity when they stack objects as high as they can. Children that play with Loose Parts that are transparent on a light table will learn about color, shadows and reflected or refracted light. By adding a scale to a table of objects, children discover what is heavy and what is light, and by how much. Objects in a water table can be learned to learn about sinking and floating, light vs. heavy.
Language and Literacy
Children that play with Loose Parts are coerced in to having vital conversations with peers. When children use them as props in their play, they describe them; they explain their use; they test new and complex words in order to explain to another person their vision or use for the object. Continuous use of Loose Parts improve a child’s memory, vocabulary, and literacy (Daly, Beloglovsky, p.17)
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