Ludicology

Loose Parts, Junk and Playing

Wednesday October 9, 2019

As playworkers we love all things play and that has to include ‘Loose parts’. Loose Parts theory simply states: '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, 1971)

For those that don’t know, ‘Loose Parts’ is a catch all term essentially referring to ‘stuff’’, preferably a real mixture of stuff, natural stuff and manufactured stuff, often scrap left over after it’s useful life has run it’s course. Importantly these ‘Loose Parts’ are non-directional in nature, unlike most toys and manufactured play equipment and that’s their magic. It’s the very non-directional nature of loose parts that leaves the determination of its purpose to the playing child/ren and as a result there is increased likelihood of inventiveness, creativity, deeper immersion, cooperation and communication and cognition, but perhaps most importantly, pleasure, fun, motivation and personal reward. Here is a link to an article that Ben originally wrote for The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years in 2016 but was reproduced by Child in the City in 2017 and is included in the Play Wales Loose Parts Tool Kit

We also wrote an info-sheet titled ‘Creativity and Tool Use in Play Settings’ this paper focusses on the role of playworkers and those that might be considered to be playworking it explores issues influencing the provision of quality play environments, the materials props and behavioural attributes that might make a place fit for play and the benefits to children of having quality play environments supported by play focused practitioners.

Play Wales also provide a whole host of other excellent resources that you can find here.

You can read The Theory of Loose Parts in Simon Nicholson’s own words here.

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