We are in the final design stages for our natural playground. It is very exciting.
One of the areas that we have wanted to create is a loose parts area. Since the new playground planning is taking longer than expected, we decided not to wait on this area. It will be housed in a different section of the playground in the new design, but it is already a huge hit.
What we did to create it is build upon what we already had on our playground. We have a collection of large PVC pipes of different sizes that the children put together and take apart, fill with water, sand, etc and use in a variety of ways. We added large milk crates and filled them with small sticks, large branches, large rocks, small rocks, seashells and bamboo pieces a parent had collected for us. We also had some tree work done fairly recently and saved the cut up stumps. We then added some cut up boards of various thicknesses and lengths.
The children having been using these materials in a variety of ways to create forts, hot tubs, construction sites, swimming pools, obstacle courses, traps and much more. The creativity this fosters and the problem solving opportunities that these materials have provided have been boundless. They are using gross motor skills to move heavy pieces and social skills to negotiate use of materials and teamwork to move them.
Aside from the pipes, we didn’t spend any money amassing these materials. They were found around our site. We simply pulled them together and placed them in an inviting area.
The pictures truly speak for themselves.
This is not just for the young children either. A innovative use of loose parts was piloted with the concept of a Scrapstore Playpod at an elementary school. This was a video brought to my attention in a post by Exchange Everyday. This would be fantastic! Please pass along to your elementary school principals and PTOs. All children deserve this kind of challenging creative play.