Theory of Loose Parts In Action

As a follow up to my post on the theory of loose parts and the natural playscape, I thought I’d share some of the goings-on during playtime.

Free play at school has been becoming more and more creative and inventive of late. What’s more, we have noticed increased co-operation and fewer fights between the children.

Here’s what the children have been up to:

They have been gathering fallen flowers, leaves, sour clover, cast-away bamboo from their wood working, broken pots and anything else they can forage to make their own ‘shop’.

Everything can be bought for a few rocks and they are most generous with granting discounts!

The shop is open!
Hard at work – the pile of rocks in the corner is the ‘money’ they have collected for their wares
Hurry! Just a few items left
Beware the money safe – all the rocks are under the pots. If you try to get to it you will topple the precariously balanced sticks on top and leave a tell tale sign!

Meanwhile, the sandpit is coming alive with other wonders. A found bottle, bamboo sticks, left over bricks from our amphitheatre and a few broken pots is all it takes!

a plastic bottle, 2 tyres and sand become a truck
… and there exists an internal structure as well – bamboo sticks hidden in the sand are the pipes of the engine!
… but what does one do with all these bricks?
…. why, build a house ofcourse!
… and the wolf ? Well, he can huff and he can puff but he can’t bring this house down …

“In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.” ~ Simon Nicholson 

4 thoughts on “Theory of Loose Parts In Action

  1. When my younger son was a third year lower, he and his friends gathered acorns and bought and sold things. Josiah’s speciality was making a class paper to sell.

    1. It’s uncanny how I have repeatedly observed children of this age group opening ‘shops’ and wanting to buy and sell things. Going back to my younger days (much much younger) it is something I did with my friends as well! The elementary child’s need for wider boundaries, you think?

  2. Since the boys are now teens, the cycling of the human has been shoved to the front of my thoughts. I’ve been watching the adolescent version of three to six. Your comment prompted me to think about the toddler and the lower el child. I picture the toddler trying to stand like his parent or placing his hands into their parents to “do the hand’s work”. I wonder if this isn’t the elementary’s way of preparing themselves to do the “job” of the adult – moving their focus to the wider world. Just wondering.

  3. Is your school AMS certified? I went through my Montessori teacher training last year while working at a certified Montessori school. This year I am working in a Reggio/Waldorf inspired school and I am finding strong merits to both approaches. Wondering how I might develop some Montessori materials that also work as loose parts to marry the two approaches. You know, objects with specific measurements on a base 10 scale that could work together in multiple ways. Ideas?

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