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Loose Parts Play
What are loose parts?

Loose parts are random, and often free materials, that have no particular purpose but can be moved, carried, stacked, altered, or combined in children's creative play. Loose parts play captures children's attention in a way that deepens focus and concentration and minimizes challenging behaviors. One of the greatest benefits of loose parts play is that you can use the same materials with a range of ages and because they are open-ended, there is no shelf life! The same materials can continue to be used in a variety of ways over an extended period of time.

Materials can include:

  • Bottle caps

  • Straws

  • Cardboard tubes
  • Egg cartons

  • Rubber bands
  • Curtain rings
  • Dowels
  • PVC pipes
  • Funnels

  • Cans (making sure there are no rough edges)
  • Balls
  • And so much more!

Why are loose parts important?

Infants, toddlers, and young children are naturally inquisitive. They learn through trial and error and by experimentation. Loose parts and other open-ended materials create opportunities for these young children to explore and investigate their properties freely.

The benefits are numerous and include social-emotional, perceptual-motor, and cognitive learning and development. Loose parts and their subsequent interactions offer children self-knowledge and play a role in a child's growing understanding of their own body and capabilities, fostering a sense of independence and self-sufficiency. Perceptual-motor learning includes the development of hand-eye coordination and other gross and fine motor skills. Cognitive learning and development are supported by the classification or growing ability to recognize differences and similarities among a variety of rich and unique materials.

Spark your child’s curiosity by letting them take the lead and explore with loose parts. Need some prompts to help take their play further? 

  • Make observations – State things in a nonjudgmental way to spark conversation. This is also a great opportunity to introduce new words and cultivate a rich dialogue.
  • Ask open-ended questions – Think of questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. What do you think this is used for? Or, what do you notice about this object?
  • Pose challenges – Give children the opportunity to problem solve by pointing out challenges and encouraging them to make connections with past knowledge. Try asking questions like: What do you think would happen if you built something with that? Or, what would happen if you lined them all up?

Site Links

  • Lewisburg Children's Museum
    815 Market Street, Suite 14
    Lewisburg, PA, 17837
    Call us now: (570)-768-4914