First, the 4-year-old started stacking the wood pieces and moving them. They really are "loose parts" with plenty of options for open-ended play. Here is a good description on loose parts and a blog post I recently made on Natural Treasures.
Eventually, the scrap building on the living room floor got to be too much, especially when they realized they could turn them into a catapult! So I sent them outside and the older kids experimented more and more. The catapult got larger, the pieces thrown in the air got larger.
The catapult got larger, the pieces thrown in the air got larger. The jumping was higher.
My husband decided this looked fun and wanted to experiment as well. The pieces to catapult definitely got larger now! Some of our loose parts got broken--what a sad face! However, they found other ways to use the loose parts.
A few skills worked on during the few minutes of loose parts play while waiting for the bus . . .
- Engineering skills
- Making adjustments
- Taking appropriate risks
I think my list could go on. I'm glad I don't always clean up my messes right away. There are great lessons to be learned in the theory of loose parts and experimentation!