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Loose parts. You have heard the term, probably in the context of promoting engaging play with open-ended, natural, and manufactured materials that can be manipulated with limitless possibilities. In this book, discover how a loose-parts mindset promotes active learning in the early elementary classroom, enhancing curriculum and ensuring connection to state standards.
Offering inspiration and guidance on developing, applying, and teaching a loose-parts mindset, the authors break down common myths of using loose parts for learning and walk you through getting started in the classroom and on the school grounds. Examine your role as an educator, address safety concerns, and explore how you might evaluate and assess loose parts in the classroom.
The inspiring photographs in this book showcase ways to apply the loose-parts mindset to science, technology, reading and literacy, engineering, art, and math lessons. Use this book as a smorgasbord of ideas—pick and choose ones that work for you, your students, and your community. None of us is too old for a little loose-parts play!
““They nailed it!” That’s the first thought that came to mind after reading "Loose Parts Learning in K-3 Classrooms". Loose parts can be messy. Even writing about loose parts can be a messy ordeal -- unless you have experts doing the thinking, organizing, and writing. The authors of this exciting book are just that – experts in describing the “what, why, and how” of using loose parts in early elementary classrooms. After reading about loose parts as a mindset versus a pile of stuff, I was caught up in the excitement of how such a mindset could enrich the educational experience for both teachers and students. Who would have thought that a loose-parts mindset could, not only address academic state standards and documentation requirements, but also make clean up and homework more than a chore? This book is sure to become a “must-have” resource for both new and seasoned classroom teachers. ”
Ruth Wilson, PhD
Research Library Curator, Children & Nature Network
“As the author of books about process art for children of all ages, I’m delighted and inspired by “Loose Parts” and the opportunity offered to children to think, explore, discover, and experiment within their own spheres of play and learning. There is great cross-over between process art and loose parts! In fact, I often provide loose parts for collage and manipulation of art materials, that is, incorporating open-ended materials in children's creativity and learning. Children who explore and learn with loose parts build confidence, enhance their imaginations, become comfortable solving problems, and become naturally inventive, all-important skills that help children grow into adults who will do the same. I highly recommend "Loose Parts" for parents, teachers, child care providers, and anyone who spends time with children. Did I mention that loose parts are also fun?”
MaryAnn Faubion Kohl
Author, process art books
“I’ve been a classroom teacher for 17 years, and as any educator in the profession this long, I have been through countless professional development and continuing education opportunities. What I liked about this book was the clear path it gave me to actionable strategies I can use in my class room tomorrow. All too often even after a great class or book, I’m left somewhat inspired but lacking the specifics to make it work in my real life classroom. This book structures the loose parts together by subject giving several lesson ideas, tips on how to set it up and thought provoking questions to improve practices. This book provides meaningful insight to loose parts exploration in the k-3 classroom. As an early childhood educator I didn’t need convincing of the idea that developing minds are motivated and enriched through play. However I was unclear on how to begin implementing loose parts in my classroom. This book laid out the rationale, then jumped directly for me into the “meat” which made it an easy and time efficient read. It answers the most common questions that prevent people from diving into loose parts. I have a feeling that this won’t be a book that will be read once and put away. I will definitely be reaching for this book often. ”
Michelle Greenberg, M.Ed
Early Childhood Educator
“With emergent, community-supported educational principles in mind, Loose Parts Learning in K-3 Classrooms takes an often overlooked and misunderstood topic and exemplifies what children can do if we provide them the space, time, and opportunity. This book shares the strategy of utilizing loose parts in an applicable way that incorporates all aspects of the curriculum with a much-needed focus on appropriate child development strategies. As an educator and parent, I highly recommend this book. Besides the section focused on refining my role as an educator, the provided foundational research, real world examples, and easy to apply resources make Loose Parts Learning in K-3 Classrooms a must have for educators focused on what is best for our children.”
Peter Dargatz, NBCT
Nature Kindergarten Teacher, and Author of Teaching Off Trail
“As a longtime preschool teacher and advocate for loose parts play, I provide open ended materials and watch children use them in remarkable ways every day. Yet, this expansive book with its wealth of resources, practical ideas and depth of information offered me countless new ways to reflect on loose parts in the teaching and learning process, including looking at specific standards and outcomes emphasized in schools, through a loose parts mind set. I will return to this book often to continue to deepen my understandings and expand the possibilities for joy and engagement for both the children and myself. I chose to be a preschool teacher after my first practicum experience in a public school setting because of the rigid schedules, lines, bells and “right answer”, standardized approaches to education. This book is an important resource that counters these “one size fits all” curriculum approaches. The book offers stories, research, and practical examples and thorough guides for creating an open, responsive loose parts mind set for the teaching and learning process for school age children. This mind set has the potential to make a much needed impact on inequity in educational settings. The book suggests how children benefit from using diverse approaches to learning where they bring their own curiosity, interest and creativity. The book invited me to question how we educators can invite children to express their identity, family and cultural background as they learn through a loose parts mind set? Other thoughts- I would have liked for the book to make the ideas about countering inequity through a loose parts mind set more visible. Also there are very few images of diverse skin colors in the book and although I didn’t know many of the books listed as resources and references, I wondered how much diversity in authors and images were reflected. It is so important that we consider on how to decenter White culture in our work and be more inclusive of our multiracial, multicultural school systems. My experience is that it is mostly White, European programs that embrace a “loose parts mind set”, and most children of color don’t get to benefit from open play time with loose parts because of the mistaken, racist idea that they need to be fixed and remediated. Addressing some of these important and pressing issues and ideas would strengthen this book.”
Early childhood educator, author, consultant