The concept of "loose parts" is not new. Children have been collecting, sorting, manipulating, moving, toting, building, and creating with loose parts for generations. Remember back to your days of playing in the woods. I'm sure you can muster some fond memories of using logs, rocks, pinecones, and other natural objects to create forts, mud kitchens, magic wands, secret treasures and more. Throughout childhood, I'm sure we have all magically "transformed" even manmade items to suit our play. Milk jugs became space ships, paper towel rolls became swords, and brooms became horses. Items such as these are considered "loose parts." Undefined loose parts can become any object that the child can dream or imagine because they have no definitive element. For example, a plastic pile of spaghetti almost always stays a plastic pile of spaghetti. But a pinecone can become spaghetti, a rocket ship, or a magical fairy-tale carriage. The creativity of the young mind never ceases to amaze me! Providing loose parts on the playground (and in the classroom) is a way to stimulate creativity, promote discovery, and spark curiosity among children. Loose parts provide a valuable open-ended learning resource.
Our school has a bounty of old tires laying around the playground. The children have endless uses for the tires. To be honest, I found them rather unsightly when I first started working at the school. But perhaps that is because I didn't see that the tires were really boats, ships, construction holes, and crawling tubes!
I hope you enjoy seeing how our children transform these simple objects and work them into their play! As I've shown in some of the photos, when the tires are not used for play, the teachers use them for functional purposes!
This boy drives his truck through a construction blockade made of tires.
These tires divide the sports area from the bike path.
This tire holds the tarp AND the paint!
Tires are often used to hold down tarps. We also cover our tables and furniture with tarps at night. The tires hold the tarps for extra protection!
The children have filled these tires with sand.
Our younger pod used the tires in an obstacle course.
The boys feel like they are doing army drills!
Cooking over the "tire" (heehee...pun intended!)
These tires have become an outdoor oven.
Tires make great planters!
The 3's teacher set up these tires by digging them into the sand. Each class has enjoyed this immensely! They have kept this structure in place for over a week!
Climbing over the tires provides great gross motor skills. Balance is key!
This 2 year old is singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"
A few of his friends joined in the fun to sing as they cruised down the "river."
I stole one tire to keep the hose in place.
PS - If you have spiders where you live, be sure to paint the inside of the tires white. Since spiders prefer dark spaces, the white color deters them from taking residence!