To create awareness and inspire parents and children of Coimbatore and beyond to explore and adopt Loose Parts Play as a creative, cost effective and an exciting alternative to expensive Toys and Gadgets, through a community engagement initiative organized in association with Kovai Vizha 2020.
Loose Parts Play
Loose Parts Play (Jan 2020) - In a world in which we are preparing our youngest generation for professions still unknown, it is imperative to fuel children’s curiosity and appetite for learning. This love of learning, along with the skills to communicate, problem-solve, and self-regulate, will lead to life-long success no matter the profession. Some might say that learning these skills will only happen behind a desk in a typical classroom, but research confirms that children who spend time in nature-filled outdoor classrooms develop skills across all learning domains. When community activities attempt to be ‘child and family friendly’, we often see the same offering - rides, instructed art ,sidewalk chalk, face painting and other such tried and tested ‘kids’ stuff’. Children enjoy all of these things, of course, but are we missing an opportunity to truly engage communities in creative thinking? With so many activities vying for attention in children’s daily lives, how can we help them to get the most out of playtime? ‘Loose Parts’ is the term, coined for open-ended materials that can be manipulated in different ways: moved, combined, taken apart or reassembled. Cardboard, bottle caps, rocks, wire, pipes and spools are just a few examples: the possibilities are endless. By offering children loose parts to manipulate, they have an opportunity to create, work, and play on their own terms, exploring what is most interesting to them. Loose parts can be big or small, but what matters most is that they draw users in, to interact and play with objects and ideas without a specific goal in mind. It is confirmed that design and creativity are not concepts reserved for the artistic elite. On the contrary, there is no artistic elite: all people, especially children, crave and need creative experiences. By expanding our idea of how a community might play and learn together, we have an opportunity for everyone to experience building, making, doing, and thinking – while being highly engaged in the process. Our understandings of loose parts in Lil Pallikkoodam and their application has grown and evolved as the theory has become more widely known, especially among early childhood educators. Early childhood educators suggest that ‘one way to rediscover our own creative impulses is to see possibilities in materials’. Often inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, teachers have found that using loose parts and presenting them in a way that draws children to interact is highly engaging and is completely a creative experience. Taking loose parts out of the classroom and bringing them into the community can create a novel offering, helping to engage children and families. Loose parts are also cheap, and often free or recycled meaning there are few barriers to adopting and implementing this deeply engaging concept against investing in an expensive toy which is forgotten soon. If we shift our thinking about the ‘what’ of children’s spaces in the community, we have an opportunity not only to engage participants in community spaces, but also to provide open-ended opportunities for exploration in an increasingly structured educational landscape. Creating opportunities for children and families using materials that allow participants to make the majority of the choices allows project coordinators to observe play and understand what the community is interested in. This, too, can be inspired and informed by high-quality early childhood practices, where the teacher’s role stretches far beyond teaching content to children.