I’ve been hearing a lot about “loose parts” play from people who practice the Reggio approach. I’ve not had any training nor experience with incorporating loose parts play in to my practice. After a little research, I found a free ebook graciously offered by: Fairy Dust Teaching [Link]. The ebook offers ideas for materials which make optimal loose parts. However, the book does not offer an explanation as to why loose parts play is beneficial and recommended. The cynic in me also wonders at the Sisyphean task of cleaning-up thousands of little bits.
In the spirit of science, I conducted an experiment. I gave my kids some wooden cubes of varying sizes, glass beads of different colors, and plastic bears. I observed to see what student learning I could ascertain.
As they played, I saw obvious benefits to their fine-motor development. Some understanding of 1-1 correspondence was displayed. Spatial-reasoning and balance were clearly in use. Concentration and focus were entirely on task. As they constructed, placed and positioned the loose parts, they spoke with each other and some worked cooperatively. As they described their constructs to me, they practiced descriptive story-telling. And truly, clean-up was not a problem at all. Two of my children cheerily helped me to sort pieces back into their proper container- an added practice in sorting by attribute.