Loose parts Play in the Early Years allows students to explore, inquire and use their creativity with a limitless supply of resources. Providing provocations and resources that inspire curiosity and can ultimately lead to developing communication skills, problem solving and an ability to self regulate.

The term ‘Loose Parts’ was first used by the architect, Simon Nicholson in the 1970s. Nicholson provided rich environments for children of all ages that contained objects of various properties that could be moved,
combined, manipulated and re-designed creatively, over and over again.

A loose Parts provocation can consist of large or small objects, reclaimed materials, natural objects or commercially produced toys. It can be set up indoors or outdoors. There is no agenda, no task to complete, it
is a question of standing back and observing how children interact with the range and mix of materials. At the end of a Play Based Learning session, children can reflect on their play and communicate the meaning they gave to these open ended resources. Teachers then carefully observe patterns of schematic play and decide what more materials can be added to engage curiosity, interest and challenges.

Why does IICS include loose parts into playbased learning:

-Loose parts are open-ended
-They inspire imagination, curiosity and creativity
-Loose parts can be adapted and manipulated in many ways and therefore interest is sustained for a longer period over a static-single use toy
-Loose parts encourage recycling of everyday materials
-Loose parts develop more skill and competence than most single use toys, presented in isolation ( for instance, cars and a garage)
-Loose parts can be used in combination with other materials to support imagination ( commercial blocks, presented with stones and fir cones, for example)

Read below to develop an understanding of the links to our written curriculum when students use loose parts in their play.

Categories of Play

» Dramatic: I take on roles within pretend games about familiar experiences
» Imaginative: I imagine or pretend to be somewhere or something else
» Physical: I explore movements and ways to combine movements —running and playing ball, jumping, climbing, dancing, moving on an obstacle course
» Role play: I can take on different roles using props and ideas I have seen in real life
» Social: I am involved in games, conversations or working together with others
» Solitary: I am engrossed in my play and do not notice other children around me

EY Approaches Towards Learning


» acquisition of knowledge: I find new facts, vocabulary and ideas
» comprehension: I understand the new things I have learned
» application: I use the information I find out to make or do something
» analysis: I look for the themes, patterns or big ideas in the information I have found


» observing: I can use my senses to understand things
» planning: I think about what I need to do and how I am going to do it


» listening: I listen to directions, instructions and the information presented by others
» speaking: I speak clearly to express ideas, share ideas and opinions in both large and small groups


» gross motor: I can complete tasks that use my large muscles
» fine motor: I can control little movements like cutting out, handwriting, tying shoe laces
» spatial awareness: I can respect the space of others
» organisation: I can plan, carry out and complete activities
» safety: I can make choices to keep myself and others safe


» accepting responsibility: I can complete a task that has been started and do my part to take on and share responsibility
» respecting others: I can listen sensitively to others and make decisions based on fairness and equality
» cooperating: I can work well in groups, share, take turns and respect members of my group
» group decision making: I can listen to others, discuss ideas, ask questions and work towards a group agreement

IB Learner Profile

» INQUIRERS: We nurture our curiosity, developing skills for inquiry and research. We know how to learn
independently and with others. We learn with enthusiasm and sustain our love of learning throughout life.
» THINKERS: We use critical and creative thinking skills to analyse and take responsible action on complex
problems. We exercise initiative in making reasoned, ethical decisions.
» COMMUNICATORS: We express ourselves confidently and creatively in more than one language and in
many ways. We collaborate effectively, listening carefully to the perspectives of other individuals and groups.
» RISK-TAKERS: We approach uncertainty with forethought and determination; we work independently and
cooperatively to explore to explore new ideas and innovative strategies. We are resourceful and resilient in
the face of change.
» REFLECTIVE: We thoughtfully consider the world and our own ideas and experience. We work to
understand our strengths and weaknesses in order to support our learning and personal development.

Would you like to contribute to our loose parts play? 

Dear Parents,

We are collecting used items for EY Loose Parts and Makerspace. Please send in clean:
















If you would like to find out more about the theory of loose parts, below are some articles:

The Theory of Loose Parts, An Everyday Story.com
The Theory of Loose Parts, Open University