15 Apr
Loose Parts in Primary Schools: From Impossible to Possible
Posted by client_admin
By Jeni Wilson

“Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said. ‘One can’t believe impossible things.’

I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast!”

― Lewis Carroll

This blog is for teachers who believe hands on play, kinaesthetic learning, and student centred curriculum is fundamental to student learning. Loose parts have an important place in primary schools.

Do you want your students to be active, problem solvers and problem posers?

And do you understand the importance of curiosity, creativity and action-oriented learning?

Then this is for you.

Why are loose parts important in primary schools?

If you really believe that the impossible is possible, if you devote enough time and effort to it… then you can change the way you work in schools. Students can make many decisions for themselves that we sometimes routinely make for them. 

And if you are looking for opportunities to develop lifelong learning skills and dispositions without contriving contexts to do so, then read on. 

Enter loose parts play

One of the key benefits of loose parts play is the open-endedness and ability for the students to be self-directed. The buzz words student voice and agency are naturally integral. 

And learning to learn skills and dispositions such as thinking, cooperative learning, problem solving, negotiation, conflict resolution and resilience are inherent when using loose parts play in classrooms and beyond. 

Sound impossible?

Well, there are so many opportunities in primary schools for students to construct and reconstruct, design, invention and reinvention, and to be creative when using loose parts

Loose parts play is great for:

  • Unstructured, open-ended play during class time to improve student well being;
  • As a context for student-centred/led activities;
  • Adding value to a playground or play area for students to use at break times;

Enter the Nüdel Kart

The Nüdel Kart is the ultimate ready-made, research based loose parts kit

It is a mobile playground, a kart that explodes into more than 200 pieces, and is filled with loose parts that children can manipulate, build and play with. It has been designed for 3 yrs to 12 yrs, is not gender or culture specific, and is highly supportive to people of all abilities.

And it can be packed up into an area less than a metre square.

The Nüdel Kart can be used inside or outside, alongside curriculum, or during break time, providing unlimited activities and stress relief for all students.

The Nüdel Kart can be used:

  • – During inquiry tuning in tasks for immersion;
  • – For experimentation; 
  • – To explore different materials; 
  • – For specific engineering tasks;
  • – To make a simple machine;
  • – Or make a tower, bridge, town, borough, city, shelter;
  • – To design a café and be a waiter;
  • – To explore physics, eg to make ramps, force;
  • – As part of mathematics, eg informal measurements, trading and comparisons;
  • – For sorting and classification;
  • – To learn about shapes;
  • – As part of role play tasks across the curriculum;
  • – As a context for practising skills such as team work and collaboration;
  • – For problem solving challenges;
  • – To play theatre games;
  • – For skills workshops/practise; 
  • – To show learning through play;
  • – For students to use their imagination;
  • – To be creative and develop resilience;
  • – To develop oral language;
  • – For help children learn to be ‘citizens’;
  • – As props for performance;
  • – To facilitate communication between mixed groups of children;
  • – To develop a relationship between students and teachers; or
  • – Just for fun!

See the Nüdel Kart Manual for many more ideas.

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 unpacked
Nüdel Kart packed up

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

Wilson, J. and Wing Jan, L. Focus on Inquiry (second edition). Education Services Australia, Carlton South.