The Loose Parts Play Toolkit has finally been published. I’m pleased and excited that it is out there, freely available for all to download and use. It is encouraging to see the Scottish Government actively encouraging schools and other childcare organisations to embed loose parts play into their work.
As with most publications, it was a collaborative effort. Theresa Casey and myself co-authored the toolkit. This was a privilege in its own right – to have this opportunity to work with Theresa on a specific project. It was a wonderfully collaborative piece of work with many people and organisations chipping in with ideas, case studies, photos and so on. So much good play has emerged particularly in the last 7 years. Play organisations such as the Smart Play Network, Grounds for Learning, Aberdeen Play Forum and Play Scotland were generous in sharing their experiences, processes and approaches. These and other organisations have built up a capacity to provide support and training in loose parts play. The children from Law Primary School and elsewhere provided advice and quotes to keep us grounded. Julia Abel and Rachel Cowper from Inspiring Scotland were instrumental in pulling it all together too and keeping the timescales tight.
The hardest bit was keeping the document to a manageable size. Sadly, there was lots of material which never made it to the final edition. I would like to thank all those people who sent in examples – every bit was read and considered. In particular, some fantastic work from the creative sector, particularly the Yorkshire Sculpture Park who have an amazing schools programme that involves loose parts explorations linked to their exhibits. The other work which has strong links to loose parts play is that of Malawi Leaders of Learning and the TALULAR approach – Teaching and Learning Using Locally Available Resources – free and found materials are the predominant teaching resource.
Some parts of the toolkit particularly excite me as I feel they extend the thinking around the possibilities that loose parts play creates:
- The play themes on pages 11-13 that Jan White proposed provide a helpful framework for considering play provision.
- The clear expectation that the Playwork Principles should underpin practice by those who facilitate loose parts play.
- I am delighted that Tom Bedard’s work is also formally acknowledged – see page 34 as his work has been hugely influential in my own practice for helping me look at an outdoor space with a different perspective, based on his years of experiments and observations of children playing around his sand and water tables.
- Appendix 8 that clearly demonstrates how embedding loose parts play into the life of a school or early years and childcare setting can be fundamental to Curriculum for Excellence.
- The clear emphasis on the use of scrap materials, natural materials and the value of natural environments in the context of loose parts play. This is very much about creating environmental, social and financially sustainable approaches to free play in the context of considering our use of resources and the need for children to have daily time in nature.
I hope that this toolkit is widely read and used. I would love to hear from individuals and organisations that find it helpful and are willing to feedback. Please just leave a comment here on the blog, or the Creative STAR Facebook or Twitter feeds.