Loose parts are simply a collection of materials in the play setting. They can be pieces of wood, wood shapes, containers, toys or plants that can be moved around, carried, rolled or lifted to create new and interesting structures and experiences.
Loose Parts are literally anything that could be played with by a child, so therefore anything could be a loose part. This means that the sky is pretty much the limit. Using recycled loose parts is a great solution for playworkers as the resources used are cheap, varied, and unusual and helps to reduce waste going to landfill. Once you start looking at waste as potential playthings, it’s amazing how much of it there is and how much kids enjoy playing with it!
The description loose parts was first explained by Simon Nicholson in 1971. His theory was the idea that children will play more imaginatively and flexibly with loose parts that are lying around than specifically designed play equipment. ‘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’ Children and young people enjoy loose parts because they can play with them in different ways for very short periods or even for days at a time, and they can do what they want with them. A good play space will have lots of loose parts, but it is important to remember that some will have more natural play value than others.