Loose Things and Play


I have always noticed when my kids have a novel nondescript object (stick, box)  to play with it tends to capture  their imaginative states for longer periods of time. Living by the beach both my kids seem to find driftwood, shells, sticks and existing sand castle, holes, and sand mounds to play in and around for hours on end. This is what perked my interest in the idea of what I would later find to be labeled as the “Theory of loose parts”.

Read this Article First- the-theory-of-loose-parts

Then this more serious article by Ruth Wilson, Ph.D.

Why Children Play Under the Bushes

The theory of “loose parts” first proposed by architect Simon Nicholson in the 1970’s has begun to influence child-play experts and the people who design playspaces for children in a big way. Nicholson believed that it is the ‘loose parts’ in our environment that will empower our creativity.


Blogs reviewing the power and scope of Loose Parts.


Loose Parts Outside for Adventurous Play!

10 Reasons to Love Loose Parts

Loose parts storage for playgrounds

theory of loose parts




Resource materials/ readings



Book- Loose Parts: Inspiring Play in Young Children

Article- Children’s Outdoor Play & Learning Environments: Returning to Nature



Kids need recess


The IPA/USA Elementary Recess Handbook presents a strong case for school recess. Here are just a few of the ways they say recess fits the bill for elementary aged children.

Recess meets a child’s social and emotional needs in these ways:

  • For many children, the chance to play with friends is an important reason for coming to school.
  • Recess can lower stress and anxiety. Without a chance to relieve stress, children sometimes resort to outbursts, nail-biting and temper tantrums.
  • Recess provides a non-threatening way for children of different cultures to learn from each other.
  • Recess gives some children a chance to break away from classmates, collect their thoughts and be alone for a while.

Recess promotes brain development and learning in these ways:

  • Students who do not get a break are much more fidgety. Plus they miss out on watching and learning from other children.
  • Unstructured play allows children to explore and exercise their sense of wonder, which leads to creativity.
  • Vigorous exercise helps the heart pump fresh oxygen into the blood to nourish sluggish brains.

Recess meets the child’s physical needs in these ways:

  • Physical activity can reduce cardiac risk factors like obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and inactive life styles.
  • Play in the great outdoors stimulates the senses: children breathe fresh air, move on blades of green grass, smell fresh plants and run to favorite landmarks.
  • Through rough and tumble play, children learn about their bodies’ capabilities and how to control themselves in their environment.
  • Activities like jump rope, kickball and hopscotch encourage children to take turns, negotiate rules, and cooperate.



American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement: The Crucial Role of Recess in School

Scholastic Article: Recess makes kids smarter

Superduper Handout: Benefits of Recess

It’s a Kid’s Job Playing Helps Kids Learn and Grow

Here are some of the programs devoted to recess — and physical activity in general — in schools:

Playworks (playworks.org) — The company works with schools and youth organizations to create playground programs for every child, saying, “We ensure they have a place that is safe and welcoming — where they can play, thrive and contribute.” The company has programs in 21 states, including Colorado (but none listed in Pueblo so far).

Peaceful Playgrounds (peacefulplaygrounds.com) — Peaceful Playgrounds creates physical activity programs that can be purchased by organizations and schools, everything from recess kits to pedometers for students.

Yoga 4 Classrooms (yoga4classrooms.com) and Yoga Kids (yogakids.com) — These programs provide educators with training and activities to introduce simple yoga to students.

Take 10! (take10.net) — Promotes healthy movement activities.

Fuel Up to Play 60 (fueluptoplay60.com) The National Dairy Council and the NFL, with the USDA, provide programs and funds for healthy eating and physical activity programs in schools. The goal is to encourage kids to eat right and play for 60 minutes every day.

— Source: Colorado Department of Education

Creativity and the brain

I have to share that when I walk my kids in the stroller on the weekend, I habitually listen to Krista Tippet interviewer extraordinaire. She picks topics that keep my head swimming in possibilities. This week she interviewed Rex Jung on Creativity. I think that this is really relevant for educators and especially School Psychologist who are constantly having to measure children’s potential in a variety of areas.

*One thing I did not like during the interview was the use of the word “Retarded”. I think that they should have been savvy enough to use the more modern, respectful, accurate descriptor of “Intellectual Disability”. UPDATE: I emailed Rex Jung about this terminology and he promptly responded, saying he wishes that we could do away with all labels. I agree with him and think he has his heart in the right place when it comes to people in general.

Click here: Rex Jung — Creativity and the Everyday Brain | On Being onbeing.org Few features of humanity are more fascinating than creativity; and few fields are more dynamic now than neuroscience. Rex Jung is working on a cutting edge of science, exploring the differences and interplay between intelligence and creativity

is an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He’s a Distinguished Senior Advisor to the Positive Neuroscience Project, based at the University of Pennsylvania.