Well, it’s May 2020 and its officially been about a thousand years since we’ve been ordered to stay home.  Around here that means we can’t play on play structures or get together with our friends, which is a real bummer if you ask me.  I’ve been trying to find ways to keep my 4 year old busy using things most families have in their houses already, since we can’t really go out and buy new things, and online shipping is backed up for weeks.  Thus, Pandemic Playtime was born.  Interesting Activities to keep your kids entertained… for a little while at least.

This one might take a few days to get together, and you might have to go hunting around your house. Today we’re talking about Loose Parts!

Here’s what you’ll need for some Loose Parts play:

  • Small items such as: bottle caps, beads, small blocks, hair elastics, bobby pins, acorns, pine cones, pebbles, milk tags, pop tabs etc.
  • Small containers or bowls
  • Curious / bored children

Loose Parts play is a staple of early childhood education, especially for 3-5 year old kids.  I know it sounds a bit weird, but little kids love playing with groups of little things.  Some examples of what counts as loose parts activities: bottle caps, milk tags, toilet paper rolls (I know you have a bunch of those… maybe I’ll devote an entire post to TP rolls) small blocks, spoons, bobby pins, hair elastics; any quantity of one type of object and they don’t all have to ‘match’. 

This type of play is fun because it’s unstructured and gives kids a chance to play with a lot of something.  It encourages counting, sorting and sequencing which is great for developing basic math and science concepts.  It’s also a good way to work on our vocabulary and second language.  Loose Parts play encourages kids to be creative and methodical at the same time because it’s so open ended.

Invite your child to join you in going around your house to find some little objects – the things that make you go ‘ugh, why do we have all these?’ – gather them up and put them in little bowls or containers. Offer them to your little one and see what they come up with.  Try sorting them by matching colours; blue bottle caps, milk tags and hair elastics together. Then line them up from smallest to biggest. Which object can we stack or connect? Can we count them?

Some disclaimers… make sure to clean / disinfect your treasures before you start, and wash your hands. Loose parts play is a SUPERVISED activity, because some of these things are choking hazards, and can spread germs. This type of play is a great opportunity to sit and talk to your child while they manipulate all their tiny treasures (or ‘collections’ as my 4 year old calls them).

There’s no right or wrong way to play with loose parts, and it’s a great one to keep coming back to, so you can continue adding to your collections.