Thursday, December 21, 2017

Loose Parts Professional Development Books

I am an avid reader and LOVE having resources that help me imagine possibilities. I thought it would be great to compile a list of Loose Parts related professional development books. I can think of various avenues to explore here.

These are the basic loose parts books I like for educators/parents. I have all of these (except for the one coming out soon). Each has it's own focus and strength.


This focuses on various topics such a senses, creativity, action, and inquiry, with subtopics for each of these themes. This is a very visually stimulating book.


This follow up book looks specifically at the younger crowd. It focuses on different schema in children's play centered on object exploration, assembly exploration, instrumental exploration, locomotion, and action. Each schema topic has several subtopics, such as throwing, trajectory, pretending, constructing. Once again, great visual ideas throughout the book.


This is coming out in Spring 2018, looking at creating a sense of belonging, helping support a child's identity, and shows cultural sustainability. It focuses on aesthetic,  authenticity, equity, dynamic, praxis, and critical reflection.


This is a unique approach highlighting one classroom's journey in collecting "stuff" from families. Each child brought in a lunch bag of found items from their homes and went through a process of sorting, categorizing, conversing, and using the materials in art and play in the classroom. The book shares a sample letter to families and the documentation process. this is a Reggio based approach. While I find it has an older feel to the book, the information and process is solid. 




Find it free online here. Thanks for sharing that tip, Alex Cote! 
I found this book delightful, looking at perspectives from a variety of people and organizations. The book highlights Pop-up Adventure Play, the Let's Play Initiative, Adventure Playgrounds and the Maker Movement, Play:Ground, The Hands-on-Nature Anarchy Zone, Playpods in parks and schools, and Playing in Nature, one of my favorite topics. I've been to The Nature Play Zone, actually hosting a loose parts training for environmental educators there. I loved the variety of perspectives and would love to visit all these inspiring spaces. The focus is on larger movement outdoor play with bigger loose parts, typically. It also includes Playwork Principles. Watch a video of play:ground NYC here.

Not a book, but Inspiring Scotland's: Loose Parts Play is a great toolkit that covers all the basics for Loose Parts Play
I also love Michelle Thornhill's chart on schema and loose parts.
Fairy Dust Teaching also has many great resources.
Find my resources on Loose Parts located here.

If you look at my blog post on 30+ ways to Approach Loose Parts, here are some books I have found on specific subtopics within loose parts. I have not read all of these, but am interested in investigating these more.

Treasure Baskets--Treasure Basket Explorations by Laura Wilhelm looks at heuristic play (discovery by trial and error often using common household items for play) at the infant and toddler level. This book shows how to curate treasure baskets with readily available items. There are some other books on this topic, such as Developing Play for the Under Three's: The Treasure Basket and Heuristic Play and  Heuristic Play.

Block Play--There are many books on this! Block Play, Creative Block Play, A Constructivist Approach to Block Play in Early Childhood

Ramps and Pathways: A Constructivist Approach to Physics with Young Children--I love, love, love our ramps and often see children make ramps out of anything they can find, like planks of wood. This may be good to learn more on this topic. I also just found STEM Inquiry Teaching with Paths and Rampways.

Sensory Bins--Sensory Play

Adventure Playgrounds--The New Adventure Playground Movement, Adventure Playgrounds

Outdoor Classrooms--Cultivating Outdoor Classrooms (I have this--it doesn't focus on loose parts, but the behaviors and attitudes of educators in outdoor classrooms is valuable), The Outdoor Classroom: A Place to Learn

Tinkering--The Art of Tinkering (more for older children and adults--love it!), Make: Tinkering (Kids Learn by Making Stuff), Invent to Learn, Making and Tinkering with STEM (early childhood focus--less expensive on NAEYC's website)

Light and Mirrors--Making the Most of Light and Mirrors. I just got this which actually inspired this whole post. Lots of loose parts in it, though the focus is specifically on lights and mirrors with little ones.

I am also curious about these books:

Designs for Living and Learning (Thanks for the suggestion, Alana!)

Nurturing Creativity: An Essential Mindset for Young Children's Learning (Cheaper at NAEYC)

Play-based books--Lisa Murphy on Play,  David Cohen--The Development of Play, Peter Gray--Free to Learn

Reggio Books--The Reggio Way, We are All Explorers, The Hundred Languages of Children.

Outdoor Based--Teaching STEM Outdoors, Messy Maths, Dirty Teaching

STEM Play

Teacher Tom's First Book--Tom mentioned, "I don't go into "loose parts" per se, but that's pretty much all we do at Woodland Park."

Interested in Children's Books? Click for my list of Loose Parts Inspired Books!


This post contains affiliate links for your convince, though I also check online libraries, Kindle Unlimited, used copies, educational lending libraries, etc. for resources like this.

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