Loose parts is a common term used in Montessori classrooms, referring to objects that can be moved around and manipulated by kids as they play and explore.
Examples of loose parts include rocks, seeds, beans, marbles, beads, sticks, and buttons.
These items can be used in a variety of ways, and encourage imagination and creativity in children of all ages. Recently, I set up a simple loose parts exploration activity for my younger kids (ages 4 and 7), using candy corn.
What we used:
- Construction paper (black)
- Crayon (white)
- Candy corn
I started by creating simple design templates using a white crayon on black construction paper. Then, I emptied a bag of candy corn into a bowl and set everything on the table.
The kids were anxious to start, and began creating right away using the lines and curves as a guide.
This is a great activity for helping young children strengthen their spatial awareness skills, which are so important in early childhood development.
Loose parts provide a wonderful opportunity for kids to work on their fine motor skills as well.
Loose parts exploration often leads to other meaningful learning experiences.
For my preschooler, this activity naturally encouraged him to practice his counting and addition skills. My second grader, on the other hand, was inspired to engage in some storytelling as he worked.
What began as individual exploration, eventually led to a collaborative activity, as the kids began working on designs together.
This resulted in the need for some problem solving and conflict resolution, but ended up being a fantastic project for them to work on together.
After completing the templates, the kids spent a considerable amount of time creating their own designs, providing lots of imaginative play, and a whole new appreciation for candy corn.
Interested in more Montessori-style activity ideas? Be sure to check out our Montessori Inspiration board on Pinterest.