Using loose parts is a great way to develop fine motor skills as well as encourage creativity and problem-solving skills in toddlers. Recently we visited a beach and Little spent ages selecting stones and shells to add to the growing collection back at our tent!
Loose parts are so versatile; they can easily be utilised for early maths work, counting, weighing, balancing, ordering by size, grouping by shape or colour. They are also easily used in early art work, exploring pattern, texture and colour.
5 budget-friendly places to source loose parts:
- Natural materials- beaches and woodlands are brilliant for these.
- Homeware or pound shops- flat based glass beads are really useful.
- Using parts already in the toy box- dominoes are a favourite with Little, he often uses them to build fences for his farm animals.
- Recycling store- egg cartons, small boxes or containers, lids, etc.
- DIY- cutting pieces of wood into circles or square blocks makes a budget-friendly loose parts resource.
Loose parts is also a great starting point for exploring themes or environments in a story, or opening up a discussion to develop speaking and listening skills. Using a ‘faces’ set up can easily be used to help talk a toddler through different feelings or emotions and think together about ways to start practicing controlling them when they are finding this tricky.
Do you use loose parts in your setting or at home? I’d love to see how you use them, and also how you store them for easy access to play and create- please share your ideas over on twitter- @rabbit_ideas.