25 Mar
Loose Parts Play Kits
Posted by client_admin

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.

The benefits

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. 

“Nüdel Kart provides the ultimate in loose parts play”.

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 objectsmud, seed pods, bark
Building materialswood offcuts of all sized, simple tools, ropes, sandpaper, tubing
Scrap materialsold tyres, plastic pots
Soft materialsribbons, scarves, wool, fabrics
Household materialsfoam, 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).

Nüdel Kart provide more than 200 loose parts play pieces
The Nüdel Kart packed up

Loose parts play kits can help all children

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.

24 Mar
Children and the importance of Play based learning.
Posted by client_admin

By Jeni Wilson.

Play should be a fundamental part of learning. With rapidly changing technology and current health issues, direct social interactions have already been reducing. Anecdotally, teachers and parents frequently comment on children’s reduced ability to cooperate with others. They lack focus, empathy and resilience. They are simply not playing enough.

These capabilities and more, are essentially what children from all edges of the globe and across time learn from play.

So, the challenge for teachers is to harness and respect this intrinsic need of children to play, and treat play as a fundamental part of learning.

“The Case for Play and the impact of early play interventions”.

Check out the Nüdel Kart, a great solution for play based learning.

Things to remember about Play:

Play comes naturally
  • Children have the urge to play
  • Children need to play
  • Play is self-directed and intrinsically motivated
Play is learning
  • It promotes problem solving and problem posing;
  • Unlocks imagination and curiosity; and
  • Develops 21st century skills
Play is essential for wellbeing
  • It helps children process what’s happening in the world;
  • Is fun and safe; 
  • Can be therapeutic; and
  • Is fundamental to healthy development (Individuals and communities)

“The Evidence for Play”Explore the world’s best research on play, spanning the fields of economics, psychology, child development, education and neuroscience:

Incorporating play into classrooms can be thwarted by teachers feeling pressured by an overcrowded curriculum. And the result can be the temptation to try to overlay play with other structures and purposes. For example setting up structured learning tasks that students rotate through. 

But whilst the argument about children ‘not knowing what they don’t know’, or giving all children equal opportunities to experience everything might seem reasonable, corresponding structures can completely change the self-directed nature of play as children attempt to ‘get it right’.

Ironically these teacher structures could inhibit the skills and dispositions teachers are trying to achieve, such as developing focus, imagination, curiosity, collaboration and resilience.

Play Types

There are lots of ways to play. Hughes, ( 2002) suggests there are 16 different types of play. When deciding how to set up for play, consider the following possibilities. 

Types of PlayExamples of what children might be doing
Social PlayListening, talking, sharing, taking turns, playing games, making up rules, teaching friends.
Object PlayManipulating objects, building,  connecting, combining materials.
Imaginative PlayPretending and imagining. Creative role play.  Being a singer in a band, teacher, father with a newborn.
Creative PlayCreative expression. Painting, singing, designer, dancing, writing or drawing. 
Sensory PlayExploring smell, sight, sound, touch and feel. Feel the surfaces of different materials, create sound and colours.
Active PlayBeing active with your body. Jump between objects, dance, roll and slide.

(Table adapted from Sewell, C. Wilson, J. Laing, B. and Veerman, M. (2020) Nüdel Kart Teachers Manual.)

Playground Ideas supports anyone, anywhere to build a stimulating space for play, because children not only have the right to play, but it is imperative for their development, providing them with the opportunity to thrive.

But not everyone has easy access to play. Even in developed countries, the importance of play and play based learning for children is underestimated. Increasing urbanisation, over scheduling and lack of public green spaces are contributing factors. 

So Playground Ideas created the Nüdel Kart to help overcome some of these challenges. The Nüdel Kart is a mobile kart filled with loose parts that provides stimulating play for children anytime, anywhere. Nüdel Kart was designed fundamentally to encourage the highest forms of learning such as imagination, creativity, problem solving,  social skills. All through play based learning.


Lester, S. and Russell, W. 2010

Sewell, C. Wilson, J. Laing, B. and Veerman, M. (2020) Nüdel Kart Teachers Manual (2020)

Walker, Kathy. (2005) What’s the hurry? Australian Scholarships Group (np)

24 Mar
Student Voice and Student Agency
Posted by client_admin
By Dr Jeni Wilson

Student voice and student agency are most certainly the buzz words and school priorities for 2020 and beyond. Defined differently by different people and sometimes used interchangeably they are intrinsically linked and undeniably pivotal to creating student centred classrooms and student directed learning.

So what does Student Voice and Student Agency mean?

Student voice and student agency are all about empowering students to be meaningfully engaged in decision making about student learning including processes related to learning.

And it’s about being listened to and being heard, where student opinions matter and have an impact.

Because all students can take responsibility for their own learning and be self-regulated and developing student voice and agency is equally applicable for all students.

Whilst you can’t teach student agency, there are tools that can assist. The Nüdel Kart was specifically designed for child led learning.

Student Voice is not:

  • Students sitting in a circle where some speak up and others don’t
  • Just giving students a couple of choices 
  • Students always getting their own way
  • Noisy students having all the say
  • Students just doing what they like
  • Teachers losing their power
  • A few students being on school committees

So, when students are empowered with the responsibility to voice their opinions, make decisions and solve problems for themselves, they develop a broad range of independent learning and leadership skills, develop confidence, and are more likely to be engaged. And this engagement ultimately leads to achievement. Because engaged, self-regulated learning is important for our children as learners, now and in the future.

Making authentic decisions with teachers about what and how they learn and how they are assessed, leads to improved educational outcomes’ (Amplify, 2019)

Leadbeater’s (2017) call for action reminds us that developing student voice and agency is not just another day at the office. 

‘If education is to develop young people as capable agents, it can no longer rely on learning by routine. It needs to take people wider, deeper and further, to give them the experiences of what it is like to take action, to make things, to serve the community, to work with others and to take on the challenges that might once have daunted them

The following two examples from each end of primary education offer alternatives to traditional schooling enabling student voice and agency.

Example One – Moonee Ponds West (grade 1/2) Free Play with Nüdel Kart

Play was guided only by safety instructions. 

Student quotes 

“I was proud of what I did. I wanted to do something really big. It was really hard but it was fun.”

“You can make whatever you want. If you didn’t want to make something you didn’t have to. You can go deep, deep into your imagination.”

“I loved Nüdel Kart because I was really creative and you could experiment in lots of ways and you could develop your critical thing (sic) skills. I enjoy all of it!!!!!”

Teacher comments

“The children took most of the initiative.”

“It’s taking us back to old school equipment, with just your imagination to lead you.” 

This free play opportunity demonstrated that even young students can and do:

  • Ask questions of others
  • Give feedback to their peers
  • Seek feedback from others to improve their own learning
  • Challenge others’ ideas
  • Feel confident
  • Use their imagination
  • Share ideas and materials
  • Cooperate and collaborate with others
  • Take responsibility for their own actions
  • Use a range of thinking skills and dispositions
  • Set their own goals
  • Make their own decisions
  • Take risks and show initiative
  • Solve their own problems
  • ….and so much more

What’s a Nüdel Kart?

Nüdel Kart is a deconstructable, mobile play kart that comes apart into many different pieces, and is filled with loose parts to encourage self-directed learning.

It contains researched backed specially selected materials to stimulate children’s development.

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.

Children and self directed learning using a Nüdel Kart
Example Two – Watsonia North Primary (grade 5/6) – Developing their own study timetables
Student Quotes:

“I got way more work done.”
“I had to make an effort.”
“It was good to regulate my standard of work.”
“This is real life.”
“It was less stressful getting help without stopping others and you weren’t held up by others.”
“People were focussed, not mucking around.”

Want to know more about the Nüdel Kart?


Victorian Department of Education and Training. (2019). Amplify. Empowering students through voice, agency and leadership.

Leadbeater, C. (2017). Student agency: Learning to make a difference. Seminar Series. 269, Centre for Strategic Education.

Murdoch, K. and Wilson, J. (2004) Learning Links. Curriculum Corporation, Carlton South.

Quaglia, R and Corso, M. Student Voice. 2014. The Instrument of Change. Corwin, California.

Wilson, J. (2013) Activate Inquiry. Education Services Australia, Carlton South

5 Dec
Play Poverty: 43 Reasons We Must Fight It
Posted by Joanna Francis

By Neve Spicer

Play involves imagination, creativity, and innovation. For young people, it is both fun and essential. They need play in order to flex, stretch, and grow their muscles; not only their physical ones, but also the emotional, cognitive, and imaginative muscles of their minds.

But here’s the thing…

We are seeing a global increase in play poverty. Too many children are bereft of time and opportunity to play.

We see this in developing countries where there is little to no investment in play infrastructure (ie, no playgrounds in schools or community areas), but we also see it in wealthy countries where the culture views play as disposable; a non-essential distraction from more serious academic activities. This occurs in kindergarten, in elementary school, and in high school, where recess time is routinely dropped. Even after school, when children once played, many parents are arranging extra classes and organized activities instead.

Sir Ken Robinson, an expert in child education and the man behind TEDs most watched talk, describes this situation as “a disaster“.

In case you are in any doubt about how important it is that we fight play poverty, here are 43 science-backed benefits that playtime brings our children:

So what can we do to fight play poverty?

We can support communities around the world who lack resources, to design and build imaginative playgrounds using local materials and labor. We can also encourage a move away from rote learning to pedagogical best practice, including play based learning. 

In our schools, we can make the case for play. Let’s get our voices heard in a bid to affect both local school policy and national education policy. Play shouldn’t be seen an a non-essential luxury. It must be viewed as vital and necessary to our children’s wellbeing and healthy growth, on every level.

At home, we can prioritize play in our child’s day and week. While enrolling our kids in a selection of extracurricular activities can be enriching, it’s important to balance this with plenty of time for free play; that is, the unstructured, self-directed play that children get up to when adults and screens take a back seat.

Let’s always remember: play is healthy, play is fun, and play is cathartic. Let’s protect and promote it as the birthright of every child.

Neve Spicer
Founder & Director

Play Poverty: 43 Reasons We Must Fight It