St. Mary’s Episcopal School

Reflects the joy of learning and growth in the love of God, family and friends.

“Loose Parts” Help Children Think Critically, Take Risks

Rocks, sticks, gems, shells, tree blocks, beads, corks and paper towel tubes.

“We call these materials ‘loose parts,’ and they help to inspire open-ended play,” said Shannon Jones, 3/4-Year-Olds teacher. “These natural and synthetic materials can be moved around the classroom and rotated, stacked, sorted, combined, taken apart and re-assembled in a countless number of ways.”

JK Teacher Wendy Dixon, who has been leading a staff development initiative surrounding this topic, shares that playing with “loose parts” has many benefits for young children, including encouraging children to design, plan and build; use materials in open-ended and various ways to explore their own creativity and innovation; solve problems and think critically; learn independently and collaboratively; and persevere and take risks.

Loose parts play is incorporated into every classroom at St. Mary’s, utilizing materials that are safe for even our youngest children in the Twos class. Incorporating this type of learning in a variety of classroom centers, including blocks, the touch table, art and the light table, provides many opportunities for literacy and mathematical learning, along with fine motor development.