Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Block Building Loose Parts Books

Blocks are a great standard loose parts. Blocks turn into so many creations, such as a castle, boat, house, or skyscraper. We love adding in all kinds of loose parts to block play, such as pinecones, tree cookies, acorn caps, sweet gum balls, and more! It extends the play and the imagination.

We found a couple of books on blocks at my son's preschool recently. We can check these titles out, read them at home, and then return them again later. This one might have been out a really long time! I'll get it back next week, I promise!

Block City is a simple book about the creations a boy builds. The whole living room becomes the landscape and setting for his city made of blocks. He adds more and more details and the blocks start looking like animals and people as his city expands. We like adding extras like figurines and animals, as well! At the end, utter destruction befalls the city, just as most block structures are knocked down. It's half of the fun, right? The blocks are then ready for a new excursion!

When I Build with Blocks shows the imagination that comes from block building and the diversity of thought as children build. I like how the kids are pictured in costumes as they imagine themselves in the castle, on the pirate ship, and in the haunted house.

I like that there is a plug at the end of the book reminding children to clean up! I think creations can be left out for a short time occasionally; however, I agree with having a general clean up time. Extended periods of play allow for more complex and elaborate creations. 

How do you use blocks as part of loose parts play? While regular blocks are great, I find that we enjoy communing our blocks with other natural or loose parts elements. We also enjoy taking blocks outside. Find ideas to use blocks as part of Loose Parts Play on my Pinterest Board.

There are SO many types of blocks out there that can work with your space. If you have an outdoor space and plenty of money, the Outlast Blocks from Community Playthings are wonderful! KodoKids also has a variety of block options. Scraps is a new company making cute blocks from industry castoff. What a win!

For home use, I also like the classic Melissa and Doug set or the more colorful set by them. 

Sometimes we use scrap wood for blocks, items from the local ReStore shop, cardboard tube rolls cut into chunks, tree cookie scraps, and so much more! 

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Nature: The Original Seek and Find

I miss our fun summer afternoons! Each day, my four-year-old pulled me out the door to go check on the frogs in the nearby pond and the run-off creek from the pond. We're lucky to have the community pond just in front of our house and the little creek on the border of our place. This has opened up so much to our outdoor time--you can basically find us at the creek most afternoons! Here are a few of the many things we found:
  • Frogs! Lots and lots of frogs! We typically find green frogs and bull frogs, though we have seen a Pickerel frog and a few others. So exciting and motivating to keep working to develop skills to actually be able to catch a frog!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Grab & Go Loose Parts Kits

We are a family on the go! We have 4 boys at various stages (ages 4-12) and often have waiting time or quiet time when we are out and about at church, doctor's visits, meetings, etc. We love the imagination, problem solving, and creativity from loose parts play. Having a few grab & go kits makes it easy and convenient to make sure we have some type of activity or items to play and create with when we're out.  Here are three kits we currently have in the rotation. Rotating things in and out helps keep items fresh. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Nature and Loose Parts Valentine Books

Are you ready for Valentine's Day? My mind is going there already!

  • Heart Stones--Have you ever found a heart shaped stone? So exciting to find one! The author shares a collection of 100 heart shaped stones. Great eye candy!
  • See a Heart, Share a Heart--This collection of photographed found hearts will get you ready to see hearts all around you. Beautiful coffee table book!
  • Monday Hearts for Madalene--This is a love story shown in hearts made of found and natural objects, such as asparagus, berries, buttons, and bungee cords. Great inspiration for making your own loose parts hearts! 
  • Botanical Hearts--This coloring book combines flowers in heart designs--perfect for soothing coloring time near Valentine's Day! 
  • The Day it Rained Hearts--A young girl catches hearts as they pour down outside. She uses these  hearts to make Valentines for her animal friends. 
  • Snowy Valentine--A rabbit searches the forest for a perfect Valentine gift and finds his tracks make a perfect heart! She is delighted with the heart shaped gift. 
  • Plant a Kiss--A young takes the phrase "plant a kiss" literally! She tends her garden and shares the love she grows with those around her. 

Have fun enjoying loose parts and nature for Valentine's Day! Read about some of our nature inspired Valentine's Day activities here.

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