Loose Parts

In 1971 Simon Nicholson published “How Not to Cheat Children: The Theory of Loose Parts”.  He wanted people who work with children to offer more open-ended materials that children could use to construct things individually, collaboratively, and to follow their imagination. Since then there have been numerous books on loose parts, most notably Loose Parts: Inspiring Play in Young Children by Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky.  Daly and Beloglovsky describe loose parts as:


“Alluring, beautiful found objects and materials that children can move, manipulate, control, and change…”


They promote creativity, imaginative play, flexibility, active learning, can be easily linked to multiple content areas or themes, inspire independence and group learning, and are accessible to children with learning needs, are who are learning a new language and need a way to express themselves.  


Daly and Beloglovsky urge us to think about loose parts in various categories, but you can certainly come up with your own! But here are their categories and then our additions and examples of children’s play.   

  • Color

  • Texture

  • Sound

  • Art

  • Design

  • Connecting and Disconnecting

  • Movement

  • Transporting

  • Construction