Loose Parts Play Guide – Can You Assist?

27 July 2016 · 5 comments

in General Commentary, Outdoor Play, Urban, Whole School

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Hello Everyone

This blog post is a plea for assistance. I’m in the process of co-writing a Loose Parts Play Guide with Theresa Casey and support by the Go2Play team. It’s part of the Scottish Government’s Play Strategy and its approach to supporting people and organisations to make every child’s right to play a reality in Scotland. We already have many contributions from play partners in terms of content and now ask the wider schools, outdoor, culture, play and early years sectors to contribute to what will be a fantastic new resource.

In the first instance, examples from Scotland are needed most of all but innovative practice from anywhere would be great to know about. The deadline is Monday 1st August, so the turnaround time is quick. Please contact me – info@creativestarlearning.co.uk or leave a comment. Many thanks in advance.

We are looking for:

Very short case studies that illustrate the wide application of loose parts beyond scrap play projects in schools. A link to a website with more information is helpful. Possible examples may include:

·       A museum or art gallery approach to using loose parts

·       An outdoor centre’s experience of using loose parts and introducing free play

·       Play ranger – street loose parts play

·       An nomadic Forest School type of practice

·       Secondary school play with loose parts

·       ASN – multiple, severe and profound needs or others??? Weave into other case studies?

·       Anything else you would like to highlight regarding the use of loose parts.

Quick quotes – One, two or three sentences.

Quotes about the impact of loose parts (including the name of person who said it and/or role, organisation):

·       Statistics are helpful.

·       Quotes from children

·       Impact for children with additional support needs

·       Any relevant quotes you particularly love

Quotes that support the impact of loose parts play…

·       Children’s health and wellbeing

·       Children’s behaviour

·       Accident statistics and first aid

·       Impact of school grounds improvements on play

·       Inside the classroom after lunchtimes

·       Parent/janitor/playground/teacher/other stakeholders perspective

Quotes and photos (with permissions) of play activities

·       Den building

·       Fire play

·       Use of tools

·       Exploring animals

·       Children developing rules

·       Staff and adult perceptions – from a range of people/professionals/ages

·       Play on beaches, in woodlands and urban areas

·       Outside in all weathers snow, sun, rain, etc. – what children do/did/felt

·       Changes in play observed in school grounds once loose parts have been introduced

        Indoor play with loose parts

Your Top tips and practical advice

·       Storage of loose parts

·       Routines around use of loose parts

·       Best items/resources for play!

·       What every playworker needs in their pack…

·       Managing mud, mess or dirt

·       Communicating with parents, staff, etc.

·       Getting ideas for loose parts

Quotes about addressing common concerns, e.g.

         Managing mud, mess or dirt

·       How to avoid ruining the carpets and giving the cleaners more work.

·       Why children need and want to play outside in the rain and other wild weather

·       Play fighting

·       Rough and tumble play

·       Other solutions rather than removing a resource or stopping play when an accident happens

·       Managing outright refusals, e.g. The head teacher won’t let us use collected scrap materials

·       Throwing snowballs and playing on icy surfaces

·       Why children need to play on the playing field all year round… and impact on the playing field when this happens or ways to let this happen without negativity

·       How to bring adults on board

·       How to move from supervising play to facilitating play


Appendix material

·       Other useful references, reading and links

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Lorraine Moore July 28, 2016 at 08:30

I know my sons primary school – Leith Walk Primary in Edinburgh do loose parts play. They have just recently organised a cupboard full of equipment and the children love it – my son does. Maybe you could contact the headteacher to ask for info. She is called Anne Houliston.


Juliet Robertson July 28, 2016 at 08:45

Thanks Lorraine – that’s good to know and in particular, your thoughts and your son’s.


Michelle Scofield July 29, 2016 at 03:14

Hi Juliet,

What a great resource you are creating. I hope that it will be for sale internationally!
I am an ECE educator in NZ and I love loose parts and how they inspire creativity!! I think over here they are just starting to become more visible in centres. I think that one of the biggest challenges to their implementation is getting other staff on board with the idea!
I have worked in one centre where children were able to access resources easily but there was always an understanding that when they finished playing with them, they had to put them away and overall this worked well.
In terms of accessing different resources I have used nature, second-hand shops, recycling centres and websites such as Freecycle.org to obtain resources.
Sorry I don’t have any pictures to provide you.
There is a centre over in Canada called Reggio Kids http://www.reggiokids.com and they provide amazing loose parts for their children to use. I have been very inspired by their practice. Tiziana Ciccone is one of the Directors who might be able to help you.

Good luck!


Juliet Robertson July 29, 2016 at 06:58

Hello Michelle

Thank you very much for your thoughts from across the world. One of the purposes of the guide is to “normalise” the use of loose parts. Whilst lots of settings and organisations do use them, others don’t and it’s a missed opportunity particularly in terms of advocating sustainable practices and empowering children’s creativity and imagination.

It’s both interesting and reassuring to read your thoughts, especially as you are based in a different country.

As the guide is being produced by the Scottish Government, I think it’s likely that it will be free to download.

Thanks again for your contribution.


Jill Hutton July 30, 2016 at 19:17

Hi Juliet,
I love loose parts play, both as a EYFS teacher and as a Mammy to a toddler! Have you heard about the Playground Project at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead? They have a wonderful exhibition at the moment, encouraging children to engage in safe ‘risky’ play. It includes a large sand pit, climbing structures and rope swings plus some wonderful photographic documentation of play. We have visited twice this week and I have some lovely photos of my little boy which I would be happy to share but I am not sure how to include them in the comments. For my little boy natural elements are always his favourite when it comes to loose parts play – sand, stones and sticks etc make him very happy!


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