Tuesday, May 16, 2017

30 Plus Ways to Approach Loose Parts Play!

The term “loose parts” has grown in popularity recently as educators and parents have rediscovered this timeless approach to play. Loose parts play can be as simple as finding a stick and using it in play or it can take a more complex approach to open ended landscapes. The term “loose parts” became popular with the Theory of Loose Parts by Simon Nicholson.  He advocated for movable items in outdoor play settings in his work as a landscape architecture. Today, the term is fairly ambiguous with some guiding principles: open ended materials and lots of options. See a post about quotes about loose parts here and the basic premise and resources here.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Role of the Educator in Loose Parts Play

I met Chris Kiewra last year at the Leadership Institute National Conference, one of the collaborations Nature Explore puts together with the Outdoor Classroom Project. She is delightful and I was delighted to see this new research in the recent copy of IJECEE from the Natural Start Alliance I picked up at the International Children and Nature Network Conference.

What is the role of educators in loose parts play?
Caring, observant adults who support creative play and learning are an aspect of creativity that Kiewra and Veselack (2016) report, sharing a few key characteristics:
a. open-ended questions that further scientific inquiry
b. ensure long blocks of time for deep exploration
c. keen observers of children’s play to see and document learning
d. close observation of children’s explorations
e. strategically support children’s processes and thinking to enhance learning
f. physically in proximity of children
g. offer observations
h. follow children’s lead without taking over
i. trust children to make decisions
j. dialogue with children to promote taking other perspectives and learn about problem-solving
k. facilitate and scaffold children’s learning
l. model and support a sense of wonder
m. set up learning areas in outdoor classroom
n. make sure an abundance of loose parts are available
o. provide learning support materials (clipboards, paper, pencils, other loose parts)
p. freedom and flexibility to use spaces and materials in unintended areas or manners
What is our role as educators in promoting creative or loose parts play?
“The teacher’s role is critical to supporting children’s skill development in self-initiated experiences in a Nature Explore Classroom. The teacher needs to be physically in proximity of children, offer observations, ask thought-provoking questions, follow children’s lead without taking over, and trust children to make decisions.” (Veselack, Cain-Chang & Miller, 2010)
“Teachers bring a selection of equipment and play matierals outside from storage sheds and classrooms daily based on several factors: teachers’ observations of and response to children’s needs; children’s articulation of their needs or initiative in bringing items outdoors themselves; staff members consideration of the weather and other factors.” (Kiewra & Veselack, 2016)
Great article! Research coming out of Natural Start Alliance 

Read the full article here. Join us for discussions on the topic in Loose Parts Play on Facebook!