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Do you recall using loose parts in your play as a child? At Mary MacKillop Childcare NQ Outside School Hours Care Centres, we have been learning how loose items can become valuable learning tools for the children.

In a time where technology and the use of devices is more evident in children’s learning, it is so important for the use of loose parts. It ensures children are connecting to creativity and their imagination in creating play.

St Anthony’s OSHC Assistant Coordinator Jane Howat said, “Loose parts encourage children to use their imagination. It also supports thinking and problem solving.”

“We also challenge the children to investigate how loose parts can be used in the home and in an education environment” she said.

Loose parts can be as simple as finding rocks in the yard and taking time to stack the rocks until they fall. This makes connection to concentration and problem-solving skills. A larger scale activity is using pallets and placing different resources on top of them. For example tyres, sheets, logs and cones.

Jane also said, “Before the children are able to engage in these activities however, rules around what will happen in the area needs to be agreed on by both the adult and the children. This gives ownership, respect and responsibility over the play situation.”

Although loose parts may look messy and unorganised, they give children an environment to lead their own expectation. Children can create meaningful engagement with other peers and themselves.

By doing this, children are experimenting and expressing their own thought processes in the natural wonder of loose parts.

“Children can see learning experiences that educators, teachers and adults cannot. Allowing them space to explore and engage supports the development of independence, confidence, social skills and self-esteem.”

However, with every theory there is a time and place. There is also a time and place for play based learning and structured play. Giving children a choice and a voice in their own learning then ensures that their play is positive and supports positive interaction and learning. Loose parts give children the opportunity to think outside the box. In addition, it gives adults an understanding of how children explore, experiment, engage and learn.

These and many other activities are part of the everyday program offered by Mary MacKillop Childcare NQ OSHC programs. To find out more contact MMCNQ on 4726 3299 or