Understanding Loose Parts and Outdoor Play

Topic Progress:

Open-ended materials or loose parts in outdoor environments offer children opportunities to engage in unique play experiences that support their curiosity and life experiences. Loose parts had their first pedagogical foundations during the 1800s. Friedrich Froebel is often associated with recognizing the importance of children having open-ended, hands-on materials.  Froebel’s “gifts” were made of varying forms of wooden, geometrically shaped parts, and provided children with materials that encouraged them to combine cognitive attributes with aesthetics and object manipulation (Sutton, 2011).

Similar to Froebel, Maria Montessori believed that children required hand-sized loose parts.  She too created apparatus that was used with the children as learning props to stimulate sensory perception and investigation. Children were encouraged to use the loose parts in innovative ways as part of their self-directed inquiry and deep thinking processes.

Loose parts is a term coined by architect Simon Nicholson (1971).  Nicholson believed that children who have access to loose parts in their environment are empowered to think, design, create and engage in experiential learning. Exposure to loose parts contributes to children expressing flexible and divergent thinking, while building upon exploration of new ideas, perspectives, and skills that contribute to fundamental skills necessary for later academic performance.

According to Nicholson (1971), to be classified as a loose part, the materials must be movable, redesigned, put together and taken apart in a variety of ways. Loose parts may be either natural or synthetic materials or objects.  Nicholson suggested that loose parts support both creative and non-creative children. Common amongst children, whether creative or not, is the desire to play and engage with their environments (Houser et al., 2016).

Sutton (2011) expanded on Nicholson’s (1971) definition of loose parts.  Sutton suggested that loose parts be defined as:

Any collection of fully movable elements that inspire a [child] to pick up, re-arrange or create new configurations, even realities, one piece or multiple pieces at a time.  Loose parts require the hand and the mind to work in concert; they are catalysts to inquiry.  Loose parts are the flexible edge of an inviting open-ended interactive environment that allows participants to make an imprint of their intention.  Experiences with loose parts provide a profound yet playful way for children to form associations between learning and pleasure. (p. 409)

Click on the words below to acquire the definitions of natural and synthetic loose parts.


Natural loose parts are defined as those materials that are nature-related such as acorns and flowers, pinecones, and stones, leaves and seeds. The availability of loose parts may be season related such as icicles and snow, piles of leaves, and sea shells.


Synthetic loose parts refers to materials that are purchased or recycled for new purposes such as aluminum foil, fabric scraps, plumbers pipe, bricks and cardboard boxes.


Natural and synthetic loose parts have common elements.  To be considered a loose part, children must be able to:


the materials to support their ideas, creativity and imagination in their play.  Loose parts do not have a defined purpose; rather, their purpose is undefined resulting in children viewing their potential to be used in their creative play and new options for play.  Loose parts offer children flexibility in their thinking processes.  Flexible thinking leads children to examine possibilities and make connections from their current knowledge and ideas with new ideas and discoveries.

Loose parts can range from simple natural materials, such as pieces of wood or small stones and seeds or plant pods, to construction materials such as pieces of wood, plumbers pipe, and water gutters. Some loose parts are found within the outdoor environment and others are gathered from a variety of sources and then placed in the outdoor environment.  Loose parts are flexible, engaging and endless (Staempfli, 2009; Zamani, 2012) and provide children with a creative way to explore their world (Änggård, 2011; Byrd, et al., 2007; Staempfli, 2009).

Examine the two photos below and think which play environment offers children more options for exploration, experimentation and discovery during their outdoor play experiences.



Think about early learning environments.

  • What types of materials would you classify as loose parts and why?
  • How might loose parts change children’s play options?
  • How do you acquire loose parts?
  • How might loose parts add to children’s imagination, creativity, intrigue and challenge during outdoor play?
  • What are the challenges of preparing outdoor play environments with loose parts?

Now review the slide show that illustrates loose parts that support children’s outdoor play.



Use the comment box below to share your reflections with your peers.

Reflect on the following topic:
When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs?  Why?



  1. Jo White

    When I think of “loose parts” and outdoor play I envision an ever changing array of natural materials on a regular basis, natural loose parts are always changing with the seasons and will give the children a better understanding of how the natural world works. Synthetic loose parts are great for pouring, containing, and changing the shape of sand, water etc and help children to experience the world in an entirely different way, mimicking what they see on a daily basis.

  2. Barb Keller

    I believe that loose parts are very important for children to engage in and explore. In our small treed area we find sticks, stones, leaves , pinecones. We bring out the extras to extend their play. Like tubes, fabric and pipes.

  3. Angela George

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs? Why?
    I think that its important to have both types of loose parts but more of the natural pieces in early learning programs because they inspire more imagination and creativity and can be used in a multitude of different ways. I think a combination of both types would be the best for the most play options. I also think that adding mud table, water table, and sand would round it out and create many opportunities

  4. Christine Norman

    A large variety of loose parts is important to the play environment. In particular natural loose parts such as rocks, sticks, logs, pinecones, etc are important so children can explore the natural materials in the environment and gain a sense of place and a love for natural materials. I also think it is important for children to have a variety of loose parts that perhaps they have not seen and explored before. Children are able to experiment and learn how things work.

  5. Michelle Davis

    I think that any land based loose parts are most important as we want children to love and respect the land they live, learn and grow on. I feel that it is up to us as educators to help children learn to respect the Earth. With saying that, I do recognize the importance of synthetic loose parts as well. A well placed wrapping paper tube can help create hours of fun and idea creation.

  6. Xintong Wang

    I think any loose parts are important, but relating to outdoor play, I think more natural loose parts are more important and create a even better experience. At our center, we have rocks, stomps for them to use.

  7. Cindy Spencer

    When I think of loose parts I think of rocks, sticks, twigs, sand, mud, pine cones, or it can be anything recyclable…egg cartons, milk cartons, cardboard boxes, cereal boxes, etc. Anything that catches a child’s eye that they can use to explore and be creative.

  8. Rachael Ewan

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs? Why? When I think about outdoor play I think more about gross motor materials. Tires, lengths of wood, rope. I think this is because these are often the materials the educators have to source and supply, as opposed to materials that are available in the natural environment for the children to source. We do have a hand in gathering these natural materials also, but typically they are more plentiful.

  9. Daphne Hachey

    Loose parts are at the core of play at our school! fort building, tires, old sewage tubes that can be balanced on, made into slides and circus apparatuses, Loose parts are a way to encourage creativity and let children use their critical and creative thinking to create a cool and unique experience that is out of the box

  10. Dana Wilson

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs? Why?

    I think almost anything can be a loose part. Mud, water, sand are all loose parts that are in most early learning programs. Sound can also be a loose part, children can create stories using the wind or other sounds. While I am drawn to more natural loose parts like logs, wood, rocks, sticks, leaves etc., I think that adding synthetic loose parts such as fabric, pipes, bricks, metal, and tires for example, deepen the complexity of the play. The mixture of both allow the children to be more creative and further their learning experience.

  11. Melissa Vail

    I often think about tree cookies, wood sticks and tires because the children can create so many things with them.

  12. lisa.rodney

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs? Why? I envision all kinds of materials – natural like acorns, pinecones, logs, sand, mud, flowers, ice, snow, and even used Christmas trees are found in our spaces. We also have synthetic, like gutters tires, spools, ropes, crates, planks – anything that will withstand the elements. Often additional materials are added to spaces that will enhance the play – things like dishes, pots, pans, scoops, buckets, shovels – although these don’t quite fit the definition given of loose parts, they do support children’s creativity and imagination and are often with loose parts.

  13. Krista Ambrose

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs? Why?
    When I think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, I envision logs, sticks, wood, pipes, ease troughs, and rocks of all different sizes and shapes. I also think about containers, rope, fabric, flowers, tarps, and so much more. I believe that these items get the curiosity flowing. The children have to think, problem solve, share, watch, copy, and create. They keep busy with just trying to figure out which item will help them. Just a mud puddle creates so many different opportunities for learning.

  14. Lindsey Cooper

    I think of natural and synthetic materials that are open-ended as loose parts. I currently keep a collection of beads, buttons, shells, rocks, bolts, and feathers in a container to use in classrooms. I never thought to have loose parts outdoors until I started this course. In the playground where I work, it would be ideal to incorporate natural materials from the woods close by.

  15. Jennifer Yarmish

    My first choice would always be natural items like sticks, rocks, cut sections of wood in all sizes, pinecones etc.. However, given our ‘disposable’ culture, I think it’s also important to incorporate upcycled items such as plastic water bottles, lids, boxes, PVC pipe and more. These items can help create discussion about what they were originally used for and how we can care for our environment by reusing and recycling.
    Right now at our centre the children have been using the cut ends of the vinyl plank flooring that just went in at my own home. I brought the 8″ by 8″ squares in and set them in the middle of the yard. I then waited until the children showed interest on their own and now they have been used for bridges, shelters for ants and plastic dinosaurs, seats for outside circle time and so much more!

  16. Heather Diewert

    Well the easy answer and probably the best is anything, although I love to see lots of repurposed items like squeeze apple juice lids, pie plates, plastic spoons, used water bottles, PVC pipe ends, wood scraps, etc. as well as the natural pieces like pine cones, branches, fallen leaves, and flowers; leaving lots for the bees. I believe these are wonderful pieces to build on environmental awareness and re-using what would otherwise go to land fills or recycling.
    I also envision, wood planks, and tree stumps where children can move them around to create balance beams and play structures, tie downs that children can string between trees, old tires, and old hula hoops and skipping ropes.
    I love to have access to water so that children can create mud pies, dams and I have also watched children use it a form of clay, that they leave in the sun to dry. These with the addition of lids plastic spoons etc, are a wonderful way to develop creative thought processing.

  17. Jody Anderson

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs? Why?
    I believe items that are found in nature are important to have ie. sticks, logs, rocks, tree stumbs, tree cookies etc because they are items that are readily available and children could find them on their own when they are away from the program. The feeling and small of natural items has a much different appeal than man made items. I would also have mud sand, buckets, shovels etc.
    Fabric pieces are a great loose parts addition as it opens up the childrens minds to a number of ideas, fort buiding, hammocks, hiding places, capes, and clothing for their dramatic play. There are numerous other possibilties with this.
    Pipes and tires, planks of wood, wooden boxes or milk crates would all be good additions to allow for whole body exploration such as lifting, heavy work, rolling, balancing, etc. Pipes and other building items can be used to create structures.
    Overall I think a variety is key and not presenting everything all at one time but rather to rotate the loose parts frequently to spark creativity more.

  18. Anna Mary McKenney

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs? Why?

    sticks and large pieces of wood are great in many programs, they can be imagined as so many things. I love rocks and other elements like that and I would love to have more water available

  19. Jasmine Park

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs? Why?

    I think natural loose parts are very important to children’s learning. They can develop fluency, imagination and creativity while they use loose parts. When we went outside with new toddlers they didn’t know what to do. They only had experience with certain toys so they stood up and looked at educators. After watching bid children playing with sticks, flowers and rocks new toddlers became to follow them. It was very interesting. I like natural loose parts because they are easily accessible and also help children to utilize in so many ways.

  20. Rachelle Gregoire

    My favorite ideas have been, keyboards and computer mouses, old phones, construction materials, wire spools, wood, pipes , tree roots and sunflower heads. I love the idea if dress up clothes and props and creating a theater curtain! It’s so important for kids to explore and experience things freely and often. To see where their imaginations , skills and interests take them. Some children might not have access to this when they go home.

  21. Katarina Ninkovic

    Sticks, rocks, pebbles, mud, sand, a lot of reflective materials, we also collected a lot of recycled materials! We used started to add glass gems and we make natural playdough!

  22. Nicole Robinson

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs? Why?

    Loose parts can be almost anything. I have often supplied crafting materials from the recycle bin, teaching the children about reusing what we already have. I have cut up tree branches into rounds. These have been used for painting, stacking, building, digging and imaginary play. Loose parts can be carried from one area to another and their limit can only be defined by the child’s imagination

  23. Nikki Littlechild

    I believe a mix of natural and synthetic loose parts are important. We spend a majority of our day outside and with loose parts. We have a variety of loose parts available both natural and synthetic. For example, we have pieces of wood that were cut up so the children can carry them, move them and utilize them while we also have a number of kitchen utensils that are loose parts and used in a variety of ways outside of their typical use in a kitchen.

  24. Grace Smith

    A mixture of natural and synthetic loose parts are both important to have, to extend children’s play. I also think that a variety of them will also be better.

  25. Angel Huang

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs? Why?
    When i think of the loose part materials and outdoor play, i think of forest, trails with twigs, flower, branches, rocks, acorns and pine corn and etc.
    Yet if we are at a playground locations of wood chips and slide, i would think of grass, rocks and wood chips where children would collect a bunch of them and bring up the slide and watch those materials slide down the slide. Or toss them in the air and giggles while see them fall. with view like these, children are still learning, why things fall down or slide down, because of gravity and why some fall faster some are slower, because of the weight of the materials.
    These are all very important while children are enjoying their outdoor play with loose part materials.

  26. Bonnie Willson

    I believe all the different loose parts are important to have to build on the children’s curiosity and creativity. I like the idea of synthetic loose parts to get the children used to the idea of reusing items and not just throwing things away when you are done with the original use for them.

  27. Karin Freiberg

    I think a mixture of natural and synthetic materials creates the most diverse learning opportunities.

  28. Shannon Stewart

    Loose parts provide materials for children to muck about with.

    Synthetic: apple sauce caps, milk jug lids, large wire spools, tires, sheets and tiptoes for fastening.
    Natural: stumps, sticks, wooden poles for den making, pine cones, boulders, small rocks and wood cookies

  29. Jessica Garner

    I envision a mixture of natural (rocks, sticks, tree stumps, etc.) and synthetic (milk crates, tires, plastic tubes, etc.). It’s important to have a variety of materials.

  30. Tammy

    My first thought about loose parts is various building materials such as tree branches, wood planks, rocks, pinecones, etc. I think starting with a base of materials and adding as you see the children’s interest change would allow the children to not be too overwhelmed, especially if this is a new concept to their classroom.

  31. Amanda Funk

    Both natural and synthetic can be used. Imagine PVC pipe and elbow being up together in a variety of ways then using water, rocks pine cones or seeds to pour in. A sensory experience, volume, measurement, aesthetic, ect..

  32. Ruth Novak

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs? Why?

    I feel as though rocks, branches, pine cones, flowers, leaves, sand, mud are all examples of natural loose parts. Even old tires or tree trunks to walk and jump on. I think the children need more loose parts that come from the environment to gain an understanding for the environment. I would try to find loose parts that really make them go “what if…” and get that curiosity going! Tarps even would be cool because the children could maybe make a fort with all the tresors they find :).

  33. Kimberley Thompson

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs?  Why?

    I think about little rocks, big rocks , different sized wood, natural materials such as feathers, pinecones, flowers. Others I think of is pvc piping, tires, old pots and pans and recycled items. I think these parts are important because it let’s the children build and have creative minds to manipulate the materials into what they want to play with.

  34. Maria Agustin

    Both natural and synthetic loose parts like rocks, shells, sticks, leaves, sands, seeds, cardboards, tires, bricks, plastic bottles that they can used for play. All of this loose parts will expand children learning experience.

  35. Julia Kunz

    natural parts-mud, water, sticks, stones, foilage, flowers
    syntheric parts-tubes, crates, buckets, tarps, rope
    It is important to offer the children open ended materials so they can use them in their own way, in a variety of ways

  36. Betty-Ann Ryz

    Loose parts I envision are: tree stumps; tires; wood pieces of various sizes, shapes and types of wood; pails; shovels; trees; sticks; rocks; water source; containers; magnifying glasses; large spools; and perhaps a live animal or two. These loose parts can enhance the outside play experience because they can be used to manipulate and teach children to be creative.

  37. Annette Casey

    A mixture of natural materials and synthetic would be goo for outside to manipulate both into a project would take thinking and most likely a friend .

  38. Mikaela Reyes

    sticks, shells, pebbles, rain, flower, leaves, pinecones, acorns, mud, sand, cardboards, tissue cores, yarns, milk jugs, yogurt cups, lids from any containers, metal pieces

    These materials that are open-ended that even I really enjoy exploring especially when toys are limited, children’s brains are just continously thinking about what they can do with these materials.

  39. Lisa Goldsack

    Sticks, shells, ropes, tires, wood, tarps, pieces of cloth, cones from trees, water, buckets, containers, shovels

  40. Nazia Mir

    There is an endless variety of loose parts around us. I personally like natural, durable, and flexible loose parts such as rocks and sea shells.

  41. Minni Harris

    Loose parts to me would be anything found outside for e.g today on our walk the children collected rocks, leaves, twigs, pine cones. I would love to add pvc pipe more soil to make some slopes in the grassy area mini hills. The children love the fact they could pick up anything that caught their eye to add to our wagon. Loose materials are endless ideas and 90% natural. In my opinion as I would like to add a sink and pallet boards to make outdoor mud kitchen area.

  42. Amanda Christison

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs? Why?

    I think a healthy balance of both natural and synthetic loose parts are important in early learning programs. The children will naturally find things to create with the natural items such as sticks, rocks, pine cones, mud etc but the teacher adding more synthetic loose materials such as fabrics, pipes, milk crates etc will turn up the creativity that much more and open up new play possibilities either with the synthetic materials alone or combining them with the natural ones. I think family involvement is important with loose parts as well and having those relationships with the parents and reaching out asking for donations ie remembering a parent is a carpenter and seeing if they could donate wood palettes for example.

  43. Lucie Pendergraff

    Loose parts that are synthetic are good for encouraging different ways of putting things together to create what your imagination comes up with… putting the vision to life. Using natural loose parts encourages children to learn about creativity in their natural surroundings and helps them connect with nature in an artistic way.

  44. Amanda N

    I believe that it depends on where your program is located. If the centre is located in a more urban place, it is more likely to have more synthetic loose parts. If the centre is located close to nature, it is more likely to have natural loose parts or a mixture of synthetic and natural. The list of loose parts is endless such as wooden pieces, pine cones, rocks, acorns, pvc pipes, rope, fabric, and others.

  45. Silvia Martínez

    I feel that wooden blocks are the most important loose material because no matter the child’s interests, they always find new ways to use the blocks, which inspires them more.

  46. Charlene Durrant

    There is an endless list of possibilities that you could use for loose parts outside. I would brainstorm with the children to see what they may like to play with. I would have the materials to build a Fort such as sticks, a tarp, and string and see what the children come up with.

  47. Svetlana Babikova

    When I think about outdoor play and loose parts, I think about large loose parts such as tires, logs, wood. Children have lots of physical activities and risky playing with these materials, and also, these materials promote critical thinking (how to use materials, what obstacle to building).

  48. Nikki Meyer

    The possibilities are endless for the types of loose parts materials programs can add into an outdoor space. I would ensure to add parts that can be used for construction, smaller items to add in details and natural items. It is wonderful when families can contribute to the loose parts available for children.

  49. Prabhulata Immaraju

    In the outdoor loose parts would be wooden pieces (wood discs), branches, sticks, stones, planks of wood, rocks, pebbles,dirt, flowers,pine cones, chestnuts, leaves, tires, fabric, yarn, anything they can collect,carry. Recycled yougurt/ drink lids, cardboard, etc can and are mostly added to the play areas for children to play with.

  50. Kathy Barnhart

    The list would be very long. I loved playing with loose parts as a child. I suppose there would be as many natural materials as I could find and I particularly like the idea of using regionally-appropriate materials. Thinking about this, I would find different types of rocks and pine cones, leaves and twigs. Also I would use intelligent materials sand, clay and water/ice. and snow to use with the loose parts.

  51. Mizuho Kashiwagi

    In my preschool, we do not have playground, we have a big open field. The children spend hours and hours of fun, they find their own loose parts from nature and use their creativity to make what they want. It is very intriguing to observe their play.

  52. Caroline Driedger

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs? Why? The materials i envision in our outdoor play space are rocks, tires, wood, pine cones, rope, tarps, blankets, tools etc… The importance of loose parts in the the connections that children make , the learning that happens naturally and the fun to be had by all.

  53. Nadira Ramnauth

    I think a variety of loose parts are important for children’ outdoor play because they use their imagination and creativity to create different types of crafts. Some loose parts that children enjoy using are pine cones, leaves, rocks, tree chips, tree branches, and sticks of different lengths and sizes. Children also enjoy using toilet rolls and paper rolls to make airplanes, magnifying glasses and boats. Loose parts are great for children’s creativity.

  54. Nicole Morrell

    Tree stumps, twigs, branches, rocks, pinecones, pvc pipe, milk jug lids, frozen juice metal lids, bread clips, boxes, empty yogurt containers, string, wire, fabric scraps, candle stick holders, dvd cases, cd cases, different wooden shapes- These are what I envision because these are what I had in my center.

  55. Lucie Theroret

    any kind of loose part natural or synthetic in a outdoor play will be a plus for children imagination

  56. Hilary Geddes

    I think having a mix of both natural and synthetic loose parts is important so children can take their creativity to new levels.

  57. Joanne Falk

    It is very important to have a lot of different kinds/varieties of loose parts for the children. They will find so many different ways to use that one piece of loose part.In our playground I like to use natural loose parts rather than synthetic. It is always so neat to see how the children will use the pieces that they find/are there for them.

  58. Janet Huffman

    I believe that sticks, rocks, stumps, outdoor flora, along with synthetic supports- foil, cardboard, tubes, plastic plumbing parts etc. If one can get their hand on old wire wheels and milk crates along with random pieces of boards/2X4’s etc.

    While there is no limit to children’s creative imagination, the larger the variety of loose parts they have the more that creative imagination is supported.

  59. Laura Mcintosh

    Having loose parts like tree stumps, kitchen utensils, different size and shaped branches all come to mind when thinking about important loose parts to add to an outdoor play experience.

  60. Andrea Preissl

    There are so many things that can be added as loose parts. Rocks, sticks, pinecone, rope, scrap pieces of wood, stumps. You could also include loose parts from inside, using things from the recycle bin, paper, boxes, left over construction matetials. These types of loose parts are important becuase it can take children’s imagination and creativity to the next level. It provides more questions amongst the children. What if we did it this way, what can we use for that, how can we implement what we’ve been talking about.

  61. Stephanie Vieira

    I believe all the natural items our for loose parts. The children can make anything out of them. Even make art on paper or on the ground. They can do so much with these loose parts.

  62. Jaclyn Geiger

    I think about natural items like stumps, sticks, stones and leaves. This does really open up the concept of synthetic as well which i guess really turns the conversation about reusing items for play and learning. I think of small items at first but really like the visuals to open my mind to larger items as well.

  63. Ai Paul

    Sand, water, sticks, rocks, feathers, pinecones, petals, clay, PVC Pipe, milk crates, boxes, tubes, scarves, stumps, tarps, tires, ropes, planks… Loose parts welcome all children with different skills, talents and abilities. There is no right or wrong answers and children take initiatives exploring their ideas and enhancing group collaboration as well.

  64. Carrie Maclellan 

    I think that it is important to have a mix of natural and synthetic loose parts. I actually love loose parts and I prefer these types of items over “toys” because they are more open-ended and provide the children with an opportunity to get creative and foster imagination.

  65. Erin Lihou

    I would think leaves, flower petals, small tree branches that look like fans and small twigs and sticks could be used as loose items

  66. Lorraine Kok

    I think there are a variety of loose parts that can spark children’s imagination particularly tree stumps, pinecones flowers and twigs I choose these because they are accessible in our playground. I did like the bales of hay and the cardboard tubes though.

  67. Trina Kelly

    I think loose parts, such as, kitchen items, utensils, pots, boxes, ropes, tarps, rocks, pine cones, acorns, sticks, branches, twigs, shells, etc which would be great for the children. I, do believe all these variety of items will intrigue the children.

  68. Carli Olson

    PVC Pipe, rocks, acorns, I love the idea of milk crates, feathers, wood pieces, sand, building materials, leaves, branches, buttons.

  69. Heidi Dueck

    I envision loose parts as a regular practice with materials available all the time.
    Mud kitchens beside sandpits and mud. Real pots and pans.
    Milk crates to build forts, tires, branches and tree stumps.

  70. Kathryn Armstrong

    I think it is important to bring loose parts into an early learning program that are not only intriguing but are large or heavy or long. So often we do not allow small children to experience these.

  71. Janice Duncan

    I think that tires, long boards, rope, tree stumps, wood cookies, plastic crates, tarps, sheets, pinecones, pots, pans, containers of various sizes, spoons, scoops, weeds like dandelions, dirt, mud, sand and snow are perfect loose parts as they offer children many opportunities to construct, play with objects, role play, engage in heavy work. The children can adapt, change, control and manipulate the materials in accordance with their own ideas and plans for the materials as they are open-ended. The materials can be reused and repurposed for another day of play.

  72. Kamaldeep Sidhu

    I love to use loose parts for my program. I believe in a variety of materials to use and extend children’s play. I like natural loose parts, but we also collect synthetic because our children also enjoy and learn.

  73. Deborah Fehr

    Personally I am drawn to nature first. Collecting, plants and twigs and wooden stumps and rocks and shells and pine cones, and leaves both alive and dead, and flowers and weeds and and and.
    In addition, building materials including nails and saws and hammers and screws and screw drivers and PVC pipe and balls (e.g. golf balls) and containers with and without lids and bottles and mud and sand and cooking utensils and and and.
    And material of various sizes for dressing up and for carrying and for decorating and for creating housing.
    The possibilities are endless.

  74. Alphonsine Hategekimana

    Loose parts such as kitchen materials, utensils, used tires, pipes, shovels, sandboxes, rocks, box, ball, plant and synthetic materials are materials that children often use and that help them in their imagination, exploration, and discovery. Children like these types of materials because they help them choose what they want, and manipulate them as they wish.

  75. Heather Howard

    I believe having a variety of natural loose parts such as stumps, rocks, bark, sticks, soil, peat moss plant pots, leaves as well as a variety of synthetic loose part materials such as PVC piping, boards, tool bench with real nails, screw and tools and a mud kitchen with real utensils would lend itself to children being able to explore creatively, using their imagination and to possibly problem solve and test theories.

  76. Krissa Rathgeber

    I love adding items that they wouldn’t normally have access to like rope, pvc pipes, hammers and nails, tarps, measuring tapes, pieces of wood etc

  77. Christine Villeneuve

    I think of almost anything from local hardware stores (wood, screws, nails, bolts, nuts, PVC pipe), pine cones, shells, bricks, sticks, rocks, flowers, cattails, and many recyclable materials found from garage sales, thrift stores, and reuse it centres.

  78. Madison Reimer

    I love the use of loose parts in a setting for children. It is always fascinating to see what they will create and where it will lead their play each time. I find small loose parts such as rocks, shells, ropes, fabrics and boxes are interesting to use.

  79. Randi Robertson

    I think that loose parts are super important. I think that loose parts from outside are really important as well, having natural loose parts in your play based program is important, i think that also having a variety of loose parts outdoors is a great way for children to learn so many newt things.

  80. Patricia Lynch-Staunton

    When you think about the term loose parts and outdoor play, what types of loose parts materials do you envision are important in early learning programs? Why?
    I encourage the use of regional loose parts in outdoor play spaces. They connect to the community the children live in. In southern Alberta, stones, branches, pine cones, rope, grass bundles, hay bails, steer horns are good examples. Other types of loose parts (synthetic and natural) such as seashells, beach glass, crystals, tires, boxes, tubes, bricks, planks can be a nice addition for combining materials, repurposing, problem-solving, creative art work.

  81. Daniela Rodriguez

    I believe having a variety of materials that incorporate different textures, shapes, sizes, colours, and uses will further expand children’s learning experience.

  82. Alison Rinas

    I image all the time if I was given an outdoor play space what would I place in it? I would create free spaces for children to explore like climbing on trees, or wooden structure that allow children to feel some risk, i would have log stumps, tress cookies, planks of wood of all sizes, i would present plastic tubes and pipes, metal bike hubs, tires of all sizes, buckets and real tools for children to explore, i would have a mud kitchen with all authentic items for children to explore while playing in the water and mud. Fabrics available for the children to create and build structures with that they develop with their own ideas

  83. Charmee Penner

    I think that loose parts are great for curiosity and engagement. I think that natural loose parts are very important as it fosters a connection to the outdoor world. I really enjoy working with smaller loose parts that children can use to create designs in the sand or create images. I also enjoy seeing children be creative with larger loose parts such as logs and boards.

  84. Susanne Saunders

    I think natural loose parts are great. The kids can find the natural loose parts when we are out walking. Synthetic loose parts the children enjoy as well. Give children a box they play for hours.

  85. Kim Hoey

    I like the natural loose parts. It also allows the children to possibly be involved in collecting them. Sticks, pine cones, rocks. Synthetic loose parts are absolutely important as well. Pipes, tubing, tires, blocks, bricks all allow children to experiment and to allow their curiosity to flourish.

  86. Romy Ralph

    I like natural loose parts like wood rounds, sticks, bark and shells as well as plastic pipes and things that can hold water. Real kitchen dishes are great too and the children love using actual pots and spoons outside in the sand.

  87. Jessica Popp

    I think it is important to use loose parts to extend the children’s play. How many times at a school lunch time do you see the playground particularly empty and the field full of kids, wondering around. The is where loose parts can be extremely valuable to supporting their play. I like to use both natural and synthetic loose parts in the outdoors.

  88. Anita Morgan

    I feel it’s important to have a variety of loose parts available. I prefer natural items like sticks, rocks, pine cones, etc Also adding pots, pans, etc can add to the children’s play

  89. Taylor Aichelberger

    I think that it is important to have a variety of loose parts materials in outdoor play and early learning programs. My favourite types of loose parts are natural materials such as shells, wood, rocks, water, sand, flowers, leaves, branches, sticks, pinecones and mud. I also think that found objects and up-cycled loose parts materials (tires, pipes, ropes, sheets, tarps, blocks, bricks, pieces of metal, etc.) can enhance creative thinking and also foster a sense of repurposing materials that is important for environmental awareness.

  90. Laurie Millions

    I believe that rocks ,sticks, flowers, plants, sand ,mud ,pinecones are all good examples of natural loose parts to have in our outdoor space.
    I also think that if ECE’s add synthetic loose parts like cardboard tubes, boxes, tinfoil, ropes, tarps that children will use them to create new ideas and things in their outdoor areas.