Loose Parts Learning in K-3 Classrooms

Cover of the book Loose Parts Learning in K-3 Classrooms
Find it at: Gryphon House or Amazon

Loose parts. You have heard the term, probably in the context of promoting engaging play with open-ended, natural, and manufactured materials that can be manipulated with limitless possibilities. In this book, discover how a loose parts mindset promotes active learning in the early elementary classroom, enhancing curriculum and ensuring connection to state standards. Offering inspiration and guidance on developing, applying, and teaching a loose parts mindset, the authors break down common myths of using loose parts for learning and walk you through getting started in the classroom and on the school grounds. Examine your role as an educator, address safety concerns, and explore how you might evaluate and assess loose parts in the classroom. The inspiring photographs in this book showcase ways to apply the loose parts mindset to science, technology, reading and literacy, engineering, art, and math lessons. Use this book as a smorgasbord of ideas–pick and choose ones that work for you, your students, and your community. None of us is too old for a little loose parts play!

“They nailed it!” That’s the first thought that came to mind after reading “Loose Parts Learning in K-3 Classrooms”. Loose parts can be messy. Even writing about loose parts can be a messy ordeal — unless you have experts doing the thinking, organizing, and writing. The authors of this exciting book are just that – experts in describing the “what, why, and how” of using loose parts in early elementary classrooms. After reading about loose parts as a mindset versus a pile of stuff, I was caught up in the excitement of how such a mindset could enrich the educational experience for both teachers and students. Who would have thought that a loose-parts mindset could, not only address academic state standards and documentation requirements, but also make clean up and homework more than a chore? This book is sure to become a “must-have” resource for both new and seasoned classroom teachers. –Ruth Wilson, PhD, Research Library Curator, Children & Nature Network

I’ve been a classroom teacher for 17 years, and as any educator in the profession this long, I have been through countless professional development and continuing education opportunities. What I liked about this book was the clear path it gave me to actionable strategies I can use in my class room tomorrow. All too often even after a great class or book, I’m left somewhat inspired but lacking the specifics to make it work in my real life classroom. This book structures the loose parts together by subject giving several lesson ideas, tips on how to set it up and thought provoking questions to improve practices. This book provides meaningful insight to loose parts exploration in the k-3 classroom. As an early childhood educator I didn’t need convincing of the idea that developing minds are motivated and enriched through play. However I was unclear on how to begin implementing loose parts in my classroom. This book laid out the rationale, then jumped directly for me into the “meat” which made it an easy and time efficient read. It answers the most common questions that prevent people from diving into loose parts. I have a feeling that this won’t be a book that will be read once and put away. I will definitely be reaching for this book often. –Michelle Greenberg, M.Ed, Early Childhood Educator

With emergent, community-supported educational principles in mind, Loose Parts Learning in K-3 Classrooms takes an often overlooked and misunderstood topic and exemplifies what children can do if we provide them the space, time, and opportunity. This book shares the strategy of utilizing loose parts in an applicable way that incorporates all aspects of the curriculum with a much-needed focus on appropriate child development strategies. As an educator and parent, I highly recommend this book. Besides the section focused on refining my role as an educator, the provided foundational research, real world examples, and easy to apply resources make Loose Parts Learning in K-3 Classrooms a must have for educators focused on what is best for our children. –Peter Dargatz, NBCT, Nature Kindergarten Teacher and Author of Teaching Off Trail