Loose Parts Play ... for babies, pre-school and school age children

Programme Introduction

Loose Parts Play

Children are undoubtedly fascinated by new toys – for a while. This is because children quickly get the idea of what the toy does and then they push it aside. 

The problem is that most manufactured toys have limited pre-determined purposes for play. These toys can be accompanied by a set of rules of how to play and how not to play with them.  What the toy does is written or shown on the box and it even tells you what age a child should be to play with it.  This toy may be gender stereotyped so you may get a strong message that you need to be either a boy or a girl to own such a thing.

The ‘Loose Parts’ theory of play is about remembering that the best play comes from things that allow children to play in many different ways and on many different levels.  Environments that include ‘loose parts’ are infinitely more stimulating and engaging than static ones. The play environment needs to promote and support imaginative play though the provision of ‘loose parts’ in a way that doesn’t direct play and play opportunities, but allows children to develop their own ideas and explore their world.

The Meantóir 'Loose Parts Play' programme is very practical with lots of visual ideas to help educators provide open ended resources to enrich activities for babies, toddlers, preschool and afterschool children. Hopefully it will inspire you to make loose parts play a significant component of your emergent curriculum. 

IMPORTANT* Before you start - please read 'NOTES FOR THE COURSE'. This contains important information to help you navigate the site if you are undertaking a programme for the first time. 


Programme Content

  • What is loose parts play?
  • The theory behind loose parts play and benefits for children
  • Educator reflective activity
  • Links with Síolta and Aistear
  • Gender stereotyped toys and play
  • Educator reflective activity
  • Natural materials, metal, wood, fabric and junk loose parts
  • Storage for loose parts
  • Babies and Toddlers
  • Pre-school children
  • School Age Childcare
  • Loose parts for outdoor play
  • Educator reflective activity
  • Loose parts play observations from the 4 themes of Aistear
  • Loose parts sample learning stories
  • Visual images of loose parts play activities for children of all ages and stages of development.
Key Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes for this course are as follows:

  1. To understand the theory behind loose parts play for children.
  2. To make a connection between loose parts play and the underpinning principles of Síolta, Aistear and good pedagogical practice.
  3. To understand the unique role of loose parts play in giving children the freedom to be creative, to think and to be inventive.
  4. To appreciate how loose parts can be incorporated into activities for babies, toddlers, pre-school and afterschool age groups.
  5. To recognise the Aistear learning themes and goals achieved through loose parts play 
  6. To learn how to enhance or resource an early childhood setting with a variety of loose parts materials, resources and activities, both indoors and outdoors.

02 Hours


Presentation with video/audio

Easy to follow components

Downloadable reference documents

Test multiple choice questions

Certificate of Completion

Notes for the course

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