Loose parts play is so much fun! Here is one of my tinker trays filled with natural and open-ended materials.
Hi, thanks for stopping by! I am here today to tell you how important the loose parts play is for a child's development. In this article, you will find ideas on how to incorporate loose parts into everyday play, how to present them, and what materials to choose. I hope you enjoy reading! 

What are loose parts?
Perhaps you've seen your child playing for hours with empty bottles, a ladle or pieces of wood before. Choosing loose parts over traditional toys. Kids are those who see no limits when it comes to playing possibilities, so when provided with the right materials, they can make more uses out of them, than any adult would.
By the 'right materials,' I mean simple, open-ended elements which the child can manipulate in multiple ways. There are no restrictions or instructions for playing with loose parts, so the child is free to decide what that acorn or a wooden block becomes.

What are the benefits of the loose parts play?
Loose parts encourage creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving. They help to build up the child's confidence because there is no right or wrong way to play with them. It's all about exploring, testing, learning and fun. When the child aims to place pine cones on the top of his block construction, he sees that some of them are too big and they keep on falling. These are some of the early science experiments when a little person familiarizes with gravity, constructing and balancing.
Loose parts play encourages exploring the beauty of Mother Nature and bonding with her. The child will happily collect the leaves and twigs on a nature walk, and, with time, learn to identify which tree/ where they came from. They will see how different each pine cone is, and how proudly shiny the round tummies of conkers are.
And think how empowered the child feels when he realises that he can create his toys, re-design them and re-arrange the scenes he builds with the simple materials provided.
Your child never gets bored when playing with loose parts, because they are much more than just pressing a button or two. And what is incredible about them, is that they are eco-friendly- most of them are natural and bio-degradable or upcycled. And they either cost nothing or are very affordable

Examples of loose parts materials
When choosing the materials for loose parts play, try to go with natural pieces or upcycle metal/ plastic trays, bottles and boxes that you already own.
I would suggest to chose larger pieces for babies and young toddlers, to avoid choking hazard. Also, please ensure that they are of the right (safe) weight and size for them and that they aren't sharp. 

Some of the commonly used materials include:
  • pine cones,
  • conkers,
  • leaves,
  • dry flowers,
  • acorns,
  • pebbles,
  • sand,
  • twigs,
  • all sizes of wood pieces,
  • bowls,
  • trays,
  • baskets,
  • scarves,
  • fabric scraps,
  • cardboard boxes,
  • blocks,
  • plastic bottles,
  • wine corks,
  • beads,
  • popsicle sticks,
  • buttons,
  • shells (from ethical source),
  • cardboard pieces,
  • peg dolls,
  • glass pebbles,
  • bottle tops,
  • ball (regular or wooden),
  • and whatever else you wish to provide for your child :)

How to incorporate loose parts into everyday play and how to present them
The loose parts can be either available for the child at all times or played with from time to time (some parents chose to hide the small pieces away to avoid the choking hazard). It is best when the child can freely access the materials, though. In our house, I always have larger pieces (boxes, blocks, pine cones, wooden bowls, scarves, leaves, twigs and baskets) easily accessible for Kian, and he plays with acorns and all small pieces under my strict supervision. 
You can display as many pieces as you wish (after a few days of observation you will be able to estimate how many pieces work best for your child). If you have room to create a separate loose parts play area, I would suggest trying it out. If not, you can simply display them in your child's toy storage/ shelves. When your child can freely access them, they will incorporate them into all kinds of play.
Also, loose parts are so much fun combined with playdough or kinetic sand. 

In terms of presentation and storage, you can use whatever suits you. I store the smaller pieces in tinker trays, the bowls and baskets on the shelf/ easily accessible for Kian, and scarves in a large basket, which is also always on display. 
If you don't own a tinker tray, you can store the smaller pieces in jars, baskets, bowls or trays. 

A few important things:

  • when providing your children with smaller materials, please supervise them,
  • there are a few great brands out there providing loose parts (for example Grapat or Grimms, they both are wonderful), but please never feel pressured to buy all the toys that bloggers/ vloggers/ neighbours recommend, 
  • the creator of The Loose Parts Theory is called Simon Nicholson, in case you wanted to read more about him 😊

I hope that I have encouraged you to provide your child with loose parts, and if you were familiar with the concept before, please let me know what do you value about them. I love watching Kian manipulate the materials in infinite ways, and he always amazes me with the ideas he comes up with. 
Have a wonderful day and thank you for your time! 
Gosia x



  1. This is such a good idea. Parents have to introduce this to their children.

    1. Thanks, Lauretta! And thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to comment x

  2. It's reminded me of when I was young, I used to love playing with my mums button tin - it was magical and I remember a friends daughter getting a box of buttons recently and she loved it as the imagination comes out to play!

    1. Your comment brought so many lovely memories back to me. I remember my mum's buttons tin. It was a cookie tin box, absolutely stunning, and filled with hundreds of buttons. I would get it out as often as I could, and spent hours admiring each one of them. Thank you for reading and commenting! Hope to see you again on my blog x

  3. My boys love loose parts play and I love how it encourages their creativity and appreciation of nature. Love the box you have the loose parts in, great for storage and inticing presentation.

    1. Thank you, Elizabeth! I found it in a local charity shop, and it was exactly what I was looking for. The best thing about it is that it has little slots on two sides of it, which work as handles. So convenient.
      Thank you for visiting my blog, and taking time to leave a comment! All the best x

  4. Loose parts play is something Olivia really enjoys. We don't do it as much at home but she loves it at her playgroup!

    1. Wow, this must be an awesome playgroup if they provide loose parts! Thank you so much for reading and commenting, all the best for you and Olivia x

  5. I love this concept. My youngest son goes to a fabulous preschool where they have forest school on some days, and indoor play on others. They always have something that I would never of dreamt of for them to play with, and I am constantly amazed by what they spend hours playing with! :D

    1. It sounds like a dreamy pre-school! Probably exactly what I am looking for for my son.
      Thank you for reading and taking the time to leave a comment. So sweet of you! All the best x

  6. My friend works in a nursery and she does this with the kids, its so good for getting their imaginations running xxx

    1. That is amazing! It will have such a positive impact on these kids. Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment! Have a great day x

  7. I think it's so nice to see children using their imagination rather than relying on computers or packaged plastic toys. It must help them immeasurably as they get older.

    1. I totally agree with you, Rachel. Childhood is about freedom, constant exploration, fun and play. It is so sad that we are taking it away from kids these days, by putting them in front of the screens. Thank you so much for visiting What Mum Loves :) Have a wonderful day x

  8. I absolutely love this . Nila is 2 and a half and she would love one of these . We are always out collecting bits and bibs outside . What a lovely idea :)

    1. Thank you, Kira! I am sure that Nila would love playing with loose parts :) Thanks for reading and leaving a comment x

  9. I work in a pre-school and the kids love to play with all sorts - their favourites are collecting pine cones and acorns that have fallen from the trees this time of year

    1. pine cones and acorns are always a hit in our hose ;) Thank you for visiting my blog again, Kara. Have a wonderful day! x

  10. My kids love playing with things like these. They are always collects stones, twigs, pine cones and acorns.

    1. These are the best toys in the world :) Thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment! All the best x

  11. I'm forever picking up random bits and incorporating them into play scenes with my other toys! At the moment I'm playing with crystals and they are all powerful magic stones!

    1. That is an amazing choice! We have quite a few crystals at home, and my son loves playing with them. Thank you for visiting my blog again, Bella :)


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