When we go bush walking with our kids, we always come across a multitude of natural loose parts – rocks, stumps, sand, twigs, bark, logs and water to name a few. They come with no specific instructions and the children alone can decide on how to use and/or combine materials. Playing with loose parts can assist in the holistic development of children because:
- Loose parts can be adapted and manipulated in many ways, exercising children’s gross and fine motor skills.
- Loose parts can be used in any way the children choose, encouraging creativity.
- Loose parts encourage open-ended conversations between multiple players, allowing children to practice social, emotional, and language skills.
Loose parts in nature come for free, but we always ask our kids to leave anything they pick up for the creatures, great and small, who may need them. We also don’t have room in the car anyway. Of course, Andrew and I are always at hand to guide play, just in case sticks, turn into ninja nunchucks.
“Giving meaning to loose parts requires us to think about the possibilities of how a child learns and consider the materials and environments she uses. Loose parts create endless possibilities and invite creativity. For example, if a child picks up a rock and starts to play, most likely that rock can become anything the child wants it to be. Imagination, creativity, curiosity, desire, and need are the motivation of loose parts.”
– Mincemoyer, C (2016), “Loose Parts, What Does This Mean“
“Take the day and leave us the moon ‘carpe noctum’ and we will seize the night.” – Atticus
I recently read Richard Louv’s book, Vitamin N, and was inspired to incorporate some of his practical outdoor activities in my family life. I started with the moonwalk: a winter walk on the night of a full moon. Our first moonwalk was on the afternoon of my day off, when the sky was still blue and on the cusp of darkening, with streaks of pink clouds on the horizon. Earlier that afternoon, as I parked into our driveway, I looked back at the rear view mirror hoping that the kids were asleep so we didn’t have to go on the moonwalk in the 9°C weather. The kids were both wide-eyed, twisting and turning, eager to get out of their car seats. With their high-pitched voices they announced that we didn’t have to go on a moonwalk because they could see the moon outside the car window anyway. I assured them that the walk would be quick and that we would bring a flashlight and a scooter. We rummaged through the layers of toys, books, and dirty clothes on their bedroom floor – no flashlight. We took out everything in our boot – no scooter. We just had to make do with what the outdoors had to offer.
Continue reading Moon Walk: The Almost Circle Moon
A Dutch organisation is encouraging parents to allow their children to be involved in risky play. Risky play is defined as thrilling and challenging forms of play that involve a risk of physical injury and this is usually done outdoors. Risky play involves allowing children to experience height and depth, movement and speed, den building and using tools, and fire. Something to keep in mind for the next walk?