Noteworthy Research Articles on the Theory of Loose Parts
Gibson, J.L., Cornell, M. &; Gill, T. (2017). A systematic review of research into the impact of loose parts play on the children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. School Mental Health, 9, 295-309. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12310-017-9220-9
I particularly like Table 1 in this that has a whole list of reviewed articles that almost shows a timeline of loose parts from the conception of the “phrase” by Nicholson to more recent publications. It shows types of studies, design methodology, findings, etc. Find it: https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs12310-017-9220-9.pdf
Houser, N. E., Roach, L., Stone, M. R., Turner, J., & Kirk, S. F. L. (2016, September 26). Let the children play: Scoping review on the implementation and use of loose parts for promoting physical activity participation. AIMS Public Health, 3(4), 781-799. Retrieved from http://www.aimspress.com/journal/aimsph
Good review of a variety of articles on loose parts, looking specifically at the loose parts, types of play, and types of thinking. Find it: http://www.aimspress.com/article/10.3934/publichealth.2016.4.781/fulltext.html
Kiewra, C., &; Veselack, E. (2016). Playing with nature: Supporting preschoolers’ creativity in natural outdoor classrooms. International Journal of Early Childhood Environmental Education, 4(1), 70-95.
This is probably the article I suggest reading the most for early childhood nature-based education. It is the most accessibly written as well. It talks about the roles of adults in loose parts, models documenting the learning thathappens, and shares 4 key components of building creativity in outdoor spaces.
Find it here: http://naturalstart.org/sites/default/files/journal/10._final_kiewra_veselack.pdf
Kirby, M. (1989). Nature as refuge in children’s environments. Children’s Environments Quarterly, 6(1): 7-12.
Looks at manipulating items, the theory of affordances, etc. Find my write up:
Nicholson, S. (1971). How not to cheat children – The theory of loose parts. Landscape Architecture, 62, 30-34.
I really encourage EVERYONE to really study Nicholson’s writing on the theory of loose parts in his own words! Today’s workshop pulled quotes from his own writing rather than just our interpretation of someone else’s interpretation. Find it: https://media.kaboom.org/docs/documents/pdf/ip/Imagination-Playground-Theory-of-Loose-Parts-Simon-Nicholson.pdf
Find my write up: http://insideoutsidemichiana.blogspot.com/2017/09/the-theory-of-loose-parts.html
Sutton, M. J. (2011). In the hand and mind: The intersection of loose parts and imagination in evocative settings for young children. Children, Youth and Environments, 21(2), 408-424.
Includes a working definition for loose parts. Looks at people and theories, such as Froebel and Montessori. Different “loose parts” than what many consider, using loose parts in public spaces. Find my write up at:
Wilson, R. (2004). Why children play under the bushes. Early Childhood News, 16(2), 14-21.
I love her writing and what she has done in the profession. She mentions environments, outdoor zones, etc. I often use this in workshops as study material as it talks about that “flexible” environment and is easy to read. Find it: