The Loose Parts Play Toolkit – UPDATE

19 July 2017 · 11 comments

in Book Reviews, Early Years Outdoors, Outdoor Play

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Last September the Loose Parts Play Toolkit was published. This week’s news is that Play Wales have adapted this document for use in Wales and the result is fantastic. Whatever country you live in, I would strongly recommend having a look for the following reasons…

  1. There is Welsh research about the benefits of loose parts play.
  2. The changes made are relevant to many … check out, for example, Ben Tawil’s junk materials extract.
  3. The photos are fabulous.
  4. Useful quotes from school staff, children and play workers.

Now back to the old blog post…

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.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Merril Miceli November 3, 2016 at 10:09

What a wonderful resource to create – and for free! I’m a long-time reader and edu-fan of your blog. I’m looking forward to printing, reading, and being inspired.


Juliet Robertson November 4, 2016 at 08:14

Thanks Merrill. I hope you find aspects of it, or indeed all of it, relevant to your practice.


Kate H January 19, 2017 at 00:06

Hello Juliet! I just finished reading your Loose Parts Toolkit. I found it to be very comprehensive and informative on the topic of the what, why and how of Loose Parts. I especially liked the section on facilitating play sessions with Loose Parts. A great practical resource for anyone wanting to learn more about this topic. Many thanks! 🙂


Juliet Robertson January 19, 2017 at 06:10

Thanks Kate – it’s good of you to provide feedback and I hope others will also do the same as it’s a free resource. I hope all is well with you.


Lynne April 27, 2017 at 08:38

The Loose Parts Play Toolkit is unavailable through this link and . Is there anywhere else I can read it?


Juliet Robertson April 27, 2017 at 14:27

Thanks Lynne – this is curious and I wonder if it’s a temporary blip as this link goes to Inspiring Scotland. Anyway try this one meanwhile and I will upload the document directly onto the Creative STAR website – I’ve done this with others as a precaution.


Alix Marschani July 23, 2017 at 09:41

Thank you for this post. It confirms EVERYTHING I hold to heart as a primary teacher responsible for developing outdoor learning creatively from YR to Y4. At my school we have an Outdoor School inspired by the Theory of Loose Parts. It has been running since April 2017, and we have a lovely spread in the local paper on our work. I send you the link to our blog. Please have a look:
Developing across a school has SO many possibilities for learning and I hope other practitioners will be inspired to work this way too. It is important for making learning real and meaningful everyday.


Juliet Robertson July 24, 2017 at 10:37

Hello Alix
Thanks very much for your comment and link to your blog post. It is an inspiring way of working and usually once a school develops this approach everyone really appreciates it.

All the best with your outdoor learning and play work.


Tim Gill July 26, 2017 at 10:47

Congratulations Juliet! (and Theresa, and everyone involved). I’ve had a quick read and it looks like it has a strong claim to be the Bible of loose parts play. Will share far and wide. Helpful to read your insider’s observations here too.


Kay Anderson October 3, 2017 at 20:20

Hi I have a copy of this booklet on my iPhone and would really like a paper copy to use in my daily practice as an Early Years Officer. How do I go about resourcing a paper copy?



Juliet Robertson October 3, 2017 at 23:01

Hello Kay – Try contacting Inspiring Scotland and ask if they have any paper copies available. This is your best bet.


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