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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.