loose parts play

Kids Play with Anything #15: Child’s Play with Kitchen Items

Kids may have a roomful of toys and where do they play? Right in the middle of the kitchen. Have you noticed any child’s play with kitchen items?

Playing in the middle of the kitchen is understandable. After all, that’s likely where the adults are. Kids learn by watching and imitating the adults around them. It’s a mistake to think that play comes from toys. Play comes from within the child.

making music funWhat are some ways that kids play with kitchen tools? Somehow kids discover that a wooden spoon and a metal saucepan or bowl make wonderful music. Well, at least, they make wonderful loud sounds. Through their exploration, kids learn they are able to make soft or loud sounds, and rhythms that are fast and slow. To us, kids might look like they are doing the same thing over and over as they play, but figuring all this out takes many experiences.

play in the kitchenOnce babies are mobile, they like to move over to low drawers where they pull out all the containers or light plastic items and throw them on the floor. Again, this loose-parts play activity is enjoyed over and over. Young engineers may build with the sandwich and other containers, creating castles, towers, and bases in Planet Kitchen.

play with kitchen itemsOlder kids may use kitchen tools for their imaginary play. Little Sister likes to push her shopping cart over to the drawer that has all the kitchen tools and load up her basket. Once she has wheeled around the island a few times, she adds a few more. Making a meal can be a bit of a challenge because a particular tool needed at any given time isn’t in the drawer.recycled-learning-toolsPretending store or restaurant needs the real stuff. It’s much more convenient to give kids empty boxes, containers, cartons, and tins instead of full ones, so save these for play with kitchen items. Tea parties certainly need some of the treasures in the kitchen.

Child’s play with kitchen items is one of the ways that kids are like adults—spending time in the kitchen. How does your child play in the kitchen?

Loose Parts Play with Lego and Duplo

Recently, there has been much discussion about play with loose parts and how it contributes to creativity, exploration, imagination, learning, and fun. Of course, all of those in turn support kindergarten readiness and important thinking skills and strategies. Loose parts can be anything, such as rocks, pine cones, sand, water, pieces of wood, crates, balls, tires, pots, empty plastic containers, sponges, and more. Lego and Duplo are loose parts that will inspire play for years.

loose parts play with LegoChildren will play with Lego and Duplo in different ways depending on their stage of development. They first start by holding and checking out by mouth. That’s why the pieces for little ones are the big Duplo. Gradually, kids learn to put the blocks together and build rows and towers. A great part of the fun is knocking the blocks over and hearing the crash.

As children get older, what they build becomes more elaborate and detailed. The Lego bricks for older kids get smaller and more specific. Their are special pieces for doors, windows, gears, wings, roofs, food, and parts of the body. There are tiny bits and pieces for all kinds of vehicles and machines. When it comes to Lego, there are gazillions of loose parts!

loose parts play with LegoWhy are loose parts so valuable for play? The easiest way to answer is to watch what kids do when they play with these materials. The play is endlessly varied, as children manipulate, imagine, create, and combine. Kids explore and find solutions to problems. The play is open-ended and child-led. Maybe that should be person-led because grown-ups play with Lego too. Checking on line for Lego creations is fascinating and they are done by people of all ages, and all over the world.

The theory of loose parts was first mentioned by architect Simon Nicholson in the 1970’s. Lego is even older. Certainly, Lego and loose parts combine for great play. Do you and your child agree?

GORFs: Good Ol’ Reliable Forts for Fun and Learning

The weather in June may not be as warm as we like but there is still the promise of summer in the air and that means learning and kindergarten readiness takes a backseat to vacation, or does it? The summer can be full of activities that are both fun and stimulating. We started the day with a GORF, a Good Ol’ Reliable Fort. It grew and grew so there would be room for all the items that were taken in bit by bit.

independent play activities Children like to be both independent and still within range of attention when they want it. Parents often want to be able to supervise their children’s activities and, at the same time, would like kids to be able to play by themselves. A GORF can meet these various needs. It is one way that kids can be close, and have their own space. Parents can hear what’s happening inside and see the action when kids come out.

Inside this one, there was some cooking, “sleeping”, lots of singing, talking, and looking at books. It took quite a considerable amount of time to haul in the books and round up a few bits from the recycling. Unfortunately, the sleeping part only lasted for a few minutes but the rest of the time I was able to work at what I needed to do. Of course, the clean up took time but the mess was relatively confined. There was lots of imaginative play as well as problem-solving, planning, and other thinking skills.

GORFs can be made anywhere, inside or out, depending on the weather. Kids of various ages will play with their forts, and they are often a favorite loose-parts play activity. Does you child like to play with a GORF?

Kindergarten Readiness: Buttons Sensory & Loose Parts Play

Button, button, whose got some buttons for sensory and loose parts play, along with some fun, learning, and kindergarten readiness? Our house has buttons from several drawers and containers and getting them out is a favorite special day activity treat. Because it is so easy for kids to put buttons in small places like noses … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness: Buttons Sensory & Loose Parts Play

Kindergarten Readiness: Toy Animals Sensory & Parts Play

It’s still a bit early to put out the plants in the strawberry pot but it was a perfect time for some sensory-play and fun with loose parts that encouraged early learning (and kindergarten readiness). The loose parts were a few plastic toy animals and some other assorted accessories (aka stuff or junk). The animals … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness: Toy Animals Sensory & Parts Play

Kindergarten Readiness: Play with Loose Parts & Other Stuff

Recently, there has been much discussion about play with loose parts and how it contributes to creativity, exploration, imagination, learning, and fun. Of course, all of those in turn support kindergarten readiness. Usually, when we think of children and play we include toys but kids will play with all kinds of stuff. Loose parts are … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness: Play with Loose Parts & Other Stuff