The Allure of Loose Parts

Binocular-gazing Sunshine
Last fall we converted a copy room into a Recycleteria complete with bins and bins of natural and man-made items.  Classrooms “shop” for shells, rocks, ribbon, bottle caps, paint chip samples or an array of recyclable items. Then the children create marvelous art, using items for counting or sorting or many other inventive activities.  With these “loose parts” the possibilities are endless and allow children to think creatively. Architect Simon Nicholson first introduced the theory of “loose parts” in the 1970’s and it still rings true now as seen in this video.
All the classrooms from our littlest ones to our After School children have used their imagination by using all the “loose parts” from the Recycleteria. Here’s a small sample of some creations or activities with loose parts from the Recycleteria:
  • The Caterpillars created musical instruments from loose parts from the Recycleteria.  The infants loved shaking their creations!  
  • The Sunshines found toilet paper rolls in the Recycleteria and created some binoculars using tape and crayons.  The simple act of allowing their eye to focus through the holes allowed the toddlers to notice things in nature that may not have been noticed before.
  • The Fireflies love to sort, stir, mix, and keep their imaginations active with all of the bottle caps, Scrabble pieces and pegs. The loose parts are used for math activities and more for preschoolers. Fireflies also filled their room with beautiful clear jars filled with stones and colored Popsicle sticks. These creations align with the Reggio Emilio inspired quest for a more natural surrounding!
  • In the After School Program the Eagles and Hawks "Trash to Treasure" club used materials from the Recycleteria and other sources to create mixed media sculptures, shell jewelry, toilet paper roll dinosaurs, egg carton water color flowers and much more. The Recycleteria became their main place to use their minds to think creatively about projects.  The After School has also begun to create their own Recycleteria.
Our Recycleteria allows children to think resourcefully about items that may have been tossed into a landfill.  Children will also explore with natural items too.  Feel free to visit our Recycleteria which is located on the second floor of the Spruce Building near the Rainbows.  Maybe you’ll think of ways that you can use your own household items in a unique manner. Or maybe you can contribute to our growing collection.