By Sabrina Landau, Early Childhood Center Director
On Tuesday, January 9th, our ECC had a wonderful program with play curator, Linda White. Each class visited her “imagination studio” and engaged with the materials she brought. Using loose parts, the children played, explored and began using terms for creation that are seldom heard in other classroom experiences. After school ended, our ECC teachers began to play and explore as well. In our continuing professional development, Linda facilitated a workshop where we all learned new ways to engage children in conversation (questions we can ask, comments we can use during moments of play) to help deepen the learning already going on in our classrooms.
“Loose parts” are just that – a collection of various materials ranging from plastic pieces to recycled items, things found in nature to materials generally used for art activities. There is no set way to play with these items and using them fosters creativity and imagination.
In 1972, an architect named Simon Nicholoson developed “The Theory of Loose Parts.” He said: “In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.”
Creating environments in which children can explore open-ended materials allows for deep meaningful learning opportunities. It allows children to engage and construct their own knowledge, a principle of our Reggio- inspired curriculum.
Our classrooms reflect the fundamental beliefs of the Reggio Emilia preschools founded by Loris Malaguzzi where the child is viewed as “competent and capable” with inner creativity. Using loose parts helps foster these important skills.