Blog post

Loose Parts Creative Play

August 6, 2017Rabbit Ideas

Using loose parts is a great way to develop fine motor skills as well as encourage creativity and problem-solving skills in toddlers. There are various loose parts resources you can buy online, but here I thought I’d do a post with ideas of where to find resources for FREE or very low cost. You could also take this further by creating a scavenger hunt for children to find and collect materials for them to later play with.

Firstly- a safety point to consider: loose parts are not necessarily ‘toys’ and so all precautions to prevent choking and other dangers should be taken. Children should always be supervised when playing with small items and they need to be kept away from babies and toddlers.

Beaches are brilliant places to find all sorts of small objects; shells, pebbles, mermaid’s purses, seaweed… and group or sort them as well as creating art work.

Woodland is a great area to explore for pine cones, feathers, acorns, twigs and conkers. Loose parts are so versatile; they can easily be utilised for early maths work, counting, weighing, balancing, ordering by size or grouping them together. They are also easily used in early art work, exploring pattern, texture and colour. Mirrors can be a great way to add greater depth to the play and learning with loose parts.

Homeware or pound shops often have small items such as flat based glass beads and small containers to pour and tip loose parts from. They also have great boxes and tubs which are really handy for storage! Always a challenge with kids’ resources!

Small toys you already have. Little is partial to using dominoes to create fences for his toy farms, for example. It might be that the kids already have parts of games and toys which can be re-purposed for a loose parts collection- at no extra cost.

DIY- if someone you know has the tools and the skills, there are lots of DIY ways of creating materials to play with. One example is cutting pieces of wood into circles or square blocks. This makes a budget-friendly loose parts resource.

Loose parts is also a great starting point for exploring themes or environments in a story, or opening up a discussion to develop speaking and listening skills. Using a ‘faces’ set up can easily be used to help talk a toddler through different feelings or emotions and think together about ways to start practicing controlling them when they are finding this tricky.

Do you use loose parts in your setting or at home? I’d love to see how you use them, and also how you store them for easy access to play and create- you can share ideas on our social media accounts: Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest.

Mission Mindfulness


Potty Adventures


  • My go-to Mindfulness

    August 26, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    This is a great idea. I love the way you’ve used natural objects. I’ll give this a go when I next babysit my friend’s daughter.

    1. rabbitideas

      August 27, 2017 at 6:37 am

      Ah, lovely, have a great time!

  • Hayley @Mission: Mindfulness

    August 28, 2017 at 8:00 pm

    What lovely ideas – we love to collect shells etc on the beach as it is such a mindful activity but then they quickly get forgotten by my 3. I love the idea of getting them out again and counting them out/being creative etc. Thanks for linking up to #thesatsesh

  • hip2trekem

    August 30, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    Lovely ideas and I love the idea of finding natural things on the beach to use, adaptable for every outside environment. #AdventureCalling

  • earthbasedfun

    August 30, 2017 at 7:41 pm

    I love this lots and I will share it on my page. My toddler loves exploring garden bits on the picnic table outside. Anything you can find in the garden, leaves, sticks, pine cones, stones etc. I call it her exploratory table 🙂

    1. rabbitideas

      August 31, 2017 at 6:44 am

      Thank you for sharing!

  • pottyadventures

    September 12, 2017 at 7:56 pm

    Another great idea. We’ve collected pebbles in the past and coloured them or patterned them to use in sequencing activities but I love the cut logs idea. Thanks for joining us on #adventurecalling I hope you can again tomorrow.

  • The Music Mummy

    September 12, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    Lovely ideas. My daughter loves collecting bits and pieces. She’s just discovered the wonder of pockets and I’m always finding random things in there…usually acorns and stones. #tacticaltuesdays

  • Lauren The Helpful Hiker

    September 12, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Love this idea, gives me inspiration for activities we can do with our toddler when we’re out walking, he loves collecting things and then we can use them for creative play later. Thanks so much for sharing #AdventureCalling

  • thetacticalmummy

    September 13, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Love this and I especially like the natural materials idea. Especially now Autumn is here there is so much to find! Thanks for supporting #TacticalTuesdays again this week – see you next time! X

    1. rabbitideas

      September 16, 2017 at 4:50 am

      Yes, a great Autumn activity!

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