For this month’s play roundup, here is a quick photo post of a few of our favourite homemade loose parts* for play. (*In the early childhood education setting, loose parts are simply open ended materials or items that can be combined, redesigned or lined up in multiple ways for play).
Yoghurt bottle tops
I built up this collection gradually over time from the squeezy yoghurt pouches I pack in Nathan’s lunch box. I get Nathan to save them and take them home for me to wash and stash away in our collection. The children enjoy playing with these in a myriad of ways--colour sorting, counting, pretend cooking, lining up in patterns and so on.
You can find heaps of DIY articles on Pinterest for making your own coloured pasta. Just regular dry pasta mixed with some food colouring and vinegar. They make a very pretty collection of loose parts for open ended play. Apart from playing pretend cooking and sorting with these, the children also thread them on string to make necklaces and bracelets.
Scrap fabric and pom-poms
Just a couple of baskets set out with some colourful scrap fabric and pom-poms for the children to explore and imagine with. I arranged some of the fabric in little cups and added a little tray of straws by way of a suggested pretend juice bar play. In the end the children of course came up with their own creations and concoctions with the materials.
Hot cocoa and marshmallows
Sometimes I arrange the loose parts in a specific play invitation setting. In this case, I used some brown fabric and large styrofoam pieces to set up a little café serving hot cocoa with marshmallows. The older preschoolers gravitated to the pretend play set up immediately, while the younger toddlers simply enjoyed the process of exploring the material with the tongs and spoons.
Spaghetti and meatballs
For this set up, I used yarn for the noodles, brown pom-poms for the meatballs and some felt pieces for the cheese, tomato and vegies. Just like the previous scenario, the older preschoolers caught onto the set up immediately, while the younger toddlers simply enjoyed exploring the material at their own pace.