By Jeni Wilson
A net is a veil, a stick is a crutch for an injured soldier… today that is. Tomorrow… who knows? The loose parts available during play provide students with limitless possibilities for invigorating play, stimulating imaginations and enhancing curiosity. In short, loose parts play kits can be used during play to learn about how the world works.
One of the key benefits of loose parts play is the open-endedness and ability to be student-directed. They provide so many opportunities for construction and reconstruction, invention and reinvention. They encourage a range of play types and can match the child’s level of development.
Thinking skills and dispositions are triggered, as well as a number of other learning skills such as cooperative learning, problem solving, negotiation, conflict resolution and resilience.
“Introducing simple, everyday objects during recess and lunchtime can cut sedentary behaviour by half, improve creativity and boost social and problems-solving skills” (Science Daily, 2016)
While fixed playgrounds and most toys may be intended for skill development during play, they are just that ‘fixed’. They will be the same next week as they are today and can have limited attraction.
Loose parts Kit
Teachers can develop their own loose parts kits. Many of the examples below can be collected from home.
Example materials for your Loose parts kit:
|Natural resources and Found objects
|mud, seed pods, bark
|wood offcuts of all sized, simple tools, ropes, sandpaper, tubing
|old tyres, plastic pots
|ribbons, scarves, wool, fabrics
|foam, bubble wrap, coathangers, cooking utensils, pegs, baskets, sieve, buckets
The Ultimate loose parts play kit
For the ultimate ready made and research based loose parts kit, that’s both compact, portable and doesn’t require power, the Nüdel Kart must be considered as an essential part of your loose parts suite.
Nüdel Kart is a mobile playground, a kart that comes apart into many different pieces, and is filled with loose parts that children can manipulate, build and play with. Nüdel Kart can be used in many settings, indoors and outdoors. It works across age groups from 3 yrs to 12 yrs and beyond, is not gender or culture specific and is highly supportive to people of all abilities.
Designed to meet world wide and whole child learning priorities, Nüdel Kart supports educational approaches that aim to develop skills increasingly in demand in our rapidly changing world in disciplines such as science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEaM).
For an average child in an average suburb in a developed country such as Australia, loose parts play super-charges the brain in all the skills essential for our complex lives. And for children living with toxic stress and daily anxiety about their future, Nüdel Kart, via loose parts play, creates an oasis of low stress, stimulating play as soon as possible after trauma. That space will help the child get back on the path of normal healthy development.
Sewell, C. Wilson, J. Laing, B. and Veerman, M. (2020) Nüdel Kart Teachers Manual (2020)
Wilson, J. and Wing Jan, L. Focus on Inquiry (second edition). Education Services Australia, Carlton South.