This week I visited a local service. While I spoke with the approved provider, I noticed some play unfolding in the mud pit nearby. A group of children were using a plank and some buckets to create what looked to be a bridge. As I began to listen to the conversation, it became apparent that they were in fact building a bridge - to get across the puddle without gum boots of course! I watched as the educational leader gave them space and time to work it out. When their first solution didn't work, she didn't step in and try to solve the problem for them, but simply supported them to think about why it might not have worked. They continued experimenting with various loose parts and I left them to it.
This is the amazing thing about loose parts - the ability to utilise various items to solve problems, to create, to make sense of the world. But it isn't always as simple as dumping a bucket of reels, pipes and planks into the playground and hoping for the best. We often hear educators say "we tried loose parts, but the children didn't seem to know what to do with them." One of our roles as an educator is as an environment setter, and a scaffolder. Does this mean we need to spend hours creating perfectly designed spaces for loose parts play? No, but we do need to give some thought to the materials we provide, how we store them, and how we support children to use them.
4 WAYS TO SUPPORT PROBLEM SOLVING THROUGH LOOSE PARTS PLAY
Loose parts should be a key aspect of all environments and programs for children, but it is important that we - as educators - know what to do with them, and how to support children to use them.
Want more ideas for supporting loose parts play? Join us in January when Jeff A Johnson of Explorations Early Learning shares an amazing online session: Supporting Ramp Play! Find out more
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