Loose Parts Play

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By In The Playroom

I recently posted about Junk Modelling and I would describe this outdoors loose parts play as being another form of junk play, but on a much bigger scale. It’s basically any items or pieces that can be picked up and moved around, and used by the children however they wish. It includes any type of materials, whether big or small, natural or synthetic – so the possibilities are really endless!

building with loose parts play in the garden

It’s something I let the children do sometimes without knowing there was a name for it, so was quite interested to know there is a theory behind it. I think kids have a natural instinct in them to just start playing with things and manipulating any objects to fit in with their play. It’s lovely to watch them and see what ideas they can come up with, and observe their imagination at work!

There is a brilliant explanation and summary of loose parts play over here so I don’t think I need to repeat everything, they have a list of suitable parts (although it could be almost anything!) and some great pictures too so worth having a look.

Here are some pics of my little ones playing in the garden with the pieces of wood from some of the broken down beds, when we were redecorating the rooms recently. At the time didn’t realise its a form of “loose parts play” but thought it would be nice for them to do some construction play on a bigger than normal scale!

loose parts play - playing with wooden bed slats, building for large scale construction play

Started off building a house, with the 4 walls.


It quickly got bulldozed by one of his brothers in the cosy coupe! So on to Plan B!


They decided to work together to build a different kind of house – more of a platform, putting all the wooden slats on top of the old sandbox frame

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Fun to stand on and balance and jump off too!

My 4 year old joined in when he came back from school, to make a slide from some of the wood balanced onto the picnic table. He makes a great pirate ship too with the picnic table, a broom and a slide 🙂

Sue from Play to Z also mentioned to me that there are some interesting videos around on loose parts play, so I did have a look and found some great examples of how this concept has been introduced in schools and the benefit its having on the children. It’s quite fascinating, when you think these days that there are so many gadgets around for children and that often we think of children growing up so quickly, but you see here in the video even Junior school age children getting so enthusiastic and showing such enjoyment playing with such low tech and basic items. It really does engage their imaginations!

Worth a look – This one is Scrapstore Playpods and is about 10 mins

Had you heard of loose parts play before? Or got any interesting examples or pics to share, would love to hear any comments 🙂

loose parts play with wood

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Anna Marikar, mum of four and seasoned blogger, has spent over a decade sharing her parenting journey and passion for kid-friendly crafts and free printables.
Her easy-to-follow craft ideas and practical parenting advice have transformed In The Playroom into a cherished resource for parents.

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