Play is serious business. Nothing lights up the brain like undirected, free-to-be-and-explore, play. Twigs, wooden blocks, acorns, string, glue, pebbles, corks make wonderful play items. Children can carry, combine, redesign, line up, take apart, and turn them into whatever they desire.
Loose parts invite conversations and interactions and they encourage collaboration and cooperation. Because they support creativity and innovation, loose parts promote social competence. These are highly valued skills in adult life today.
"Children learn most readily and easily in a laboratory-type environment where they can experiment, enjoy and find out things for themselves.” Simon Nicholson, creator of The Loose Parts Theory in 1971.
My name is Cristina Cimpoesu, mother of two boys and Montessori teacher in-training at the Montessori Institute in London.
During my work at nurseries and also in my home, I have noticed children often choosing to work with creative, loose parts, 'junk' items over toys. They feel exhilarated when they turn bits and pieces into something unique.
During the month of August, at St. John’s Memorial Hall in Woking, I will create a place for open-ended learning throughout the play session with loose parts. Four sessions, every Tuesday, from 9:30 to 12:30. Scroll down to book a session.
DBS checked. Safeguarding Training Diploma Level 3.
What happens during a typical session?
We meet at the door, greet each other and go into the Oak Hall. Parents have this opportunity to see the space and the materials before leaving. After parents have left I will show the children where the toilets are and point out the snack table with water and chopped fruit available throughout the play.
I will invite them to on the floor in a circle and discuss a few guidelines for the play: we can use the garden or the indoor space and we can freely use any material in the space in a way that is safe and does not hurt any one or anything.
We’ll participate in a positive appreciation exercise, saying 2 things we like about ourselves. I, as the teacher, will start: “Hi, My name is Cristina. And 2 things I like about myself are: I can jump really high and I like to dance. Can you name 2 things you like about yourself?” We will do this exercise at the beginning of each session. If a child does not want to reply, he is free not to, and before the circle time is over, will get another chance to join in.
Play Play and more Play
My role during loose parts play is important. I will be an observer, mediator and facilitator, offering up question based interaction that will support the children’s play rather than taking over and doing it for them.
“What would you like to do with that?”
“What else can you add to it? Glue, sellotape, clips?”
“What can you both do so that you keep working together?
“What is the hard part? Oh, so you did all that until now and now you got the hard part…”
To signal that play time is almost over, one child will be asked to turn the 20 minutes sand hourglass. When the time is up we will each name one thing they appreciated during the play and one they didn’t appreciate. If anything they have created can be easily taken home, they will be free to do so if the parts of that item are not part of any large installation that has to remain at all play sessions.
What to wear and bring?
Comfortable clothing and a spare of clothes.
Water and fruit will be offered at the snack table so there's no need to bring any food or drink.