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. 

We received this kit from a swap. It has stars in three different sizes and little cups, with all painted to match a color. 


I love the colors and shapes in this kit. There are many possibilities in using these--sort by size or color. Stack them, make patterns, create designs, etc. My kids love them! It's been a go to kit for church recently. 

We received this next "blue" kit in a swap as well. I love that it had a little drawstring bag to go with it. The cloth helps keep it quiet when we need to consider our noise level. The commonality of the items is the color, of course. There are many great textures, found objects, buttons, gems, ribbons, and more! 

There are many child-led possibilities! Mandalas or pattens can be created. Items can be separated by type. My 4-year-old immediately said, "I'm going to make an x!" 


My ten-year-old decided to create a scene of it raining on a city and then realized he could make a few adjustments to illustrate the story of the wise men and the foolish men. I love seeing stories interpreted in loose parts! 


Another fun activity we have is just the tops to applesauce/baby/toddler food containers. These come in many colors and a few shapes. I was excited when friends brought these to our nature preschool group. If you know someone with a child who uses these, ask the parent if he/she can save them for you. Send them through the dishwasher and they should be good to go! I like that these have air holes since they are used around younger children, so they don't pose the same kind of choking hazards that smaller items might typically have. While these are really just two different shapes, the colors really add another element to the items. My 10 yo son likes stacking them by rainbow color. My 4 yo enjoys putting them all on his fingers and making patterns. Each child can interact with the items in a way that is developmentally appropriate for him/her. 

These are so colorful and fun to use! Lots of possibilities. 

We have been using variations of grab & go loose parts kits for many years. They are inexpensive, easy to put together, and convenient. They allow us to experience loose parts without being overwhelmed by too much at one time. They help keep the mess and clean up to a minimum as we know it all goes in the bag when we are done and there are not as many options out at once. 

When putting together a Grab & Go Loose Parts Kit, I suggest the following:
  • Have items fit inside a container. It might be a small divided box, a plastic container, a fabric bag, etc. I have a couple of plastic bags above. I would go for freezer bags if using these much to be a little sturdier. 
  • Have enough items to be able to do something with them. While there may be some "solitary" pieces, having many of one item allows for stacking, sorting, patterning, etc. 
  • Consider a theme for the kit, such as color, shape, holiday, etc. 
  • Keep these in a special place. I like these to be reserved for grabbing & going. If they are part of our normal loose parts play spaces, it's not as entertaining to use them while we are on the go. They become something special if reserved for our trips. 
  • Try a variety of kits--textures really add another element to these. 
  • Consider hosting or participating in a swap. Everyone makes several of the same item (cheaper for supplies) and then swaps to have new activities. These could even just be rotated amongst friends. 
Do you have similar loose parts kits? What do they look like? What additional ideas do you have for more? 

Want to learn more about loose parts play? Visit my Loose Parts Play Facebook page and check out my page just for loose parts on the blog. Like Loose Parts kits? Check out our Robot Tinkering Kit!

“In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kinds of variables in it.”                         Simon Nicholson