I blogged recently about the awesome time my kids had building cubby houses with children of various ages. (If you missed the post you can check it out here: Outdoor Multi-Age Play) One of the comments I received was from Brooke, and it really got me thinking…
Then Jenny posted a wonderful entry on the same topic, “A Playground Of Loose Parts!” (She also has another post on Loose Parts if you are interested.) In the post she writes, “Providing a rich diversity of interesting loose parts that can be mixed, lifted, carried, stacked, shaped, pushed, pulled, gathered and rearranged gives children limitless opportunities to play in creative, productive and exciting ways.”
My kids don’t play with many toys in the backyard (apart from trucks). What they have instead is a collection of buckets, spades, baskets and containers which are used in their play, plus the natural loose parts we have available. In our yard this includes rocks in a range of sizes from the dry creek bed, sticks, bamboo, bark, branches, sand, water, soil, vines, macadamia nuts, and leaves. I love watching the ways they use these materials in their play.
Sometimes I still get it wrong, and impose too many rules. I want to say, “Can you please not take all the rocks out of the creek?” or “Don’t pick all the heads off the flowers!” I have to remind myself that the point of the creek was to give the kids a natural playspace, not to be an untouched art installation in the yard. And I have to remind myself that a flower picked to decorate a child’s creation is not a wasted bloom.
I want my children to be able to play in creative, productive and exciting ways, and I know that giving them a space rich in natural loose parts is a great way to provide the playful opportunities they need.
Are there any loose parts in your backyard? Do you find it easy to let the kids play in their own way, or like me – do you sometimes have to bite your tongue?!!