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 came 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.

Have you seen Little Miss Early Years new book on schemas? It is fantastic! I appreciate the color coded organization; the informative, yet accessible information; related theories and ideas; case studies to help the information come alive; and lots of information on loose parts!
She writes, "Why is there always one child who persistently plays with the door, who mixes sand with water or throws objects across the room? Can these repetitive behaviours, known as schemas, be useful in targeting children's next steps within the EYFS? Is there a way to use them to unlock learning is young children?"

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. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Exploring Magnetism as Loose Parts

As part of looking more at Nicholson's Theory of Loose Parts, we have been exploring other aspects of it, such as light, music, and even magnetism. We all like to "play, experiment, discover, invent and have fun"! There are many, many ways to explore magnetism. Some of our favorite ways are magnetic blocks, such as Tegu Blocks or Magformers. We also really liked those smaller magnet rods with metal balls--we started buying some like this before we had kids. These were our toys! We also have just gotten a large variety of magnets for exploration. We have a "magnet" bin, with lots of options. It's made of metal so especially fun. Our front door is also magnetic, so we do plenty with magnetism there. 

I still remember my then 3 year old figuring out there was metal in the corners of the walls at the hospital when we'd been there a few too many times to visit my husband. I didn't know about the metal forms to keep good corners either! Yet he found them with our Magformers. We also like nuts, bolts, and other magnetic (and non magnetic) metal pieces paired with magnets. We get all the metal by the pound at our local ReStore and add in good magnets, including a variety of strengths. Magnetic fun is a quick way we explore on the go. How do you explore magnetism and loose parts? What are the variables? 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Light Painting

I recently found the series The New Creatives on BYUtv, watching it with my tinker loving sons (ages 5-11). We have REALLY enjoyed it, watching all the episodes quickly and more than once. With a focus on creativity, the show highlights an artist, gives a collaborative project, and ends with a challenge for us the viewers. Each episode encourages us, “Don’t just watch stuff, make stuff” (Peterson & Craig, 2017). One episode highlights Patrick Rochon, a light painter. To me, this approach falls right in line with loose parts play (Read my summary of Nicholson's article here. ! Here is one of my favorite definitions of creativity by Simon Nicholson.

Rochon finds and makes his own light “tools”. He uses modified flashlights, light sabers, light wands, and gels and filters, to experiment with light. He captures the trace of light and body movement through prolonged exposure camera techniques (Peterson & Craig, 2017).

The New Creatives episode gives us the viewer the challenge to try our own light painting. As part of the episode, Rochon gives a tutorial, listing needed items and tips.
  • DSLR camera with tripod that can do prolonged exposure. There are also many smartphone apps for light painting (Pablo, Slow Shutter, Light Paint, Holographium).
  • Multiple light sources—flashlights, toys, glow sticks, etc. Get creative! Try three dimensional tools to add shapes and textures. (Here are some we are trying, though our first ones we got were just at our Dollar General and Dollar Tree).  Multicolor Light Wands LED Foam Light Sticks Lollipop Light Wands LED Globe Light Wands LED Finger Lights  (affiliate links)
  • Dark clothes help you blend into the darkness.
  • Turn off the lights! A dark room or outside space away from lights is ideal. 
  • Set the camera for an open shutter of several seconds (we did 4) of prolonged exposure. Start the camera (a remote works well if you want to be involved). Make movement with the light. Try other movements. Review your light art on the camera screen.
  •  Let go! Experiment. Try new ways of movement.  (Peterson & Craig, 2017).

This last bit reminds me most of loose parts! The light, darkness, movement, and various tools become the variables to explore, experiment, play, discover, and have fun with. 

We first accepted the challenge when we had a bunch of preteen and teen boys playing Capture the Flag in the dark. They all were armed with glow sticks! It was a perfect opportunity. My husband quickly set up a camera on a tripod and off went the lights. The boys played and danced as the camera captured the movement of light over time. We took a break to explore their work and started again. What a fun creative experience! It was quick, inexpensive, and gratifying.

We next tried the concept at Wellfield Botanic Gardens in Elkhart, Indiana, as they hosted their first winter lights display this year. As part of my volunteer work there, I brought in a variety of activities such as nature art, stick building, outdoor STEM loose parts, and a display on animals in winter.  We also thought it was a perfect time to explore light painting with the public. My 11-year-old son became our ight painting tutor and cameraman. He quickly explained light painting, let people choose lights, took pictures with the camera set for prolonged exposure while the people explored light, and then shared the results with the participants. He really enjoyed the shock of the people as they saw their light painting creations. My younger boys were also there and analyzed their own results and how others created unique effects, ready to try new movement and lights next time. We posted the pictures in the online event page. It was great fun! 
                  We really enjoyed exploring light as a loose part! It was inexpensive and easy to set up and explore since we already had a camera. The New Creatives episode on light painting is visually appealing and a great tutorial for the basic process. We think you might enjoy light painting as well!

Peterson, J. (Writer), & Craig, A. & Peterson, J. (Directors). (July 26, 2017). Patrick Rochon [Television Series Episode]. In Cook, J. R. & Cook, A. S. (Producers), The New Creatives. Provo, UT: BYUtv

Interested in other light painters? Check out this inspiration!
Other websites:
Light Painting Photography
Light Painting Tutorials

This post contains affiliate links. thanks for ordering through these links if you are interested to help support good content at no cost to you. 

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Here are some other things that look cool!

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