In 1972, architect Simon Nicholson developed the Theory of Loose Parts; the idea that loose parts, materials which can be moved around, designed and redesigned, and tinkered with; create infinitely more opportunities for creative engagement than static materials and environments.
Loose parts are the opposite of toys. Toys are used for one simple purpose where as you never know what the children are going to create and that is the absolute joy of loose parts! The only limits are the children's imaginations.
"Give a child a cardboard box and observe the many ways they can use it!"
Loose parts are a collection of items, usually natural materials, such as shells, tubes, blocks, material, corks, gems etc.
In a play, loose parts are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. They are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials.
“When children interact with loose parts, they enter a world of “what if” that promotes the type of thinking that leads to problem solving and theoretical reasoning. Loose parts enhance children's ability to think imaginatively and see solutions, and they bring a sense of adventure and excitement to children's play”