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Loose Parts

The Best Toys

Posted by: Rhonda March 24, 2015

“The Lego was fought for, stringing beads spilled in anger, plastic animals broken by grabbing. . . . as a teacher I was at my wits end with this particular group of children. They simply could not play harmoniously together,” relates Martha, an experienced preschool teacher.

“On a sudden inspiration I emptied all the tote pans and put the contents in storage. Then we went outside and collected natural objects to fill the pans: small rocks, twigs, acorns, pinecones, and bark. Once inside, we began constructing ‘dream houses’ using Plasticine to hold the sticks together. Soon tables, beds, and little pathways appeared. We kept the houses displayed and worked on them again and again. The old grabbing habits were gone—after all who ‘owns’ the things of nature?”

As Martha discovered, the best toys don’t come from a store. Nature offers a wide assortment of loose parts that are captivatingly simple and empowering. Plus, they’re easy on the budget!

Although teachers have always known the great play value in natural materials, current research now validates the tremendous learning potential they offer as well. Read the article.