Encourage your school age children to create a collection.  They might take a container or bag and collect some things that they find in nature while outside, or they might collect a variety of stray parts or art and craft materials from around your home.  Ask them to sort their collection in different ways and involve the other children in viewing their collection and trying to discover their sorting pattern.  Challenge them to sort their collections in multiple ways and describe the rules they have established for sorting.

Goal: Children will practice sorting materials by different attributes and describing the different qualities of the materials in their collection.

Loose parts are materials that can be used in a variety of ways.  It is very likely that you have things that can be used for loose parts play already around, such as bottle caps, rocks, pinecones, etc.  This handout was created collaboratively between Town Square and the Early Math Collaborative at Erikson Institute as a resource for the Oak Park Collaboration for Early Childhood Symposium 2016. It includes ideas for using loose parts and connecting loose parts play to Big Ideas in Early Math.

Creating Challenges with Loose Parts Handout

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Town Square Research to Practice Statements offer information from theory and research with examples and suggestions for what it means in your work with children.  This series of position statements includes topics such as the benefits of a home-like environment, the power of open-ended materials, and the benefits of incorporating the arts.

Town Square Research to Practice: The Power of Open-Ended Materials

You may have heard about the idea of loose parts and how wonderful they are for encouraging children’s exploration and play. This handout created by Penn State Extension offers tips for using loose parts, examples of types of loose parts, and outlines some of the benefits of play with loose parts. Chances are you have several loose parts for children to explore already in your home, so get them out and get ready to play!

Loose Parts Handout

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Celebrate Earth Day by doing something good for the earth with the children in your care.  These Town Square resources are some possibilities for using recyclables or taking advantage of nature.

Create a Container Garden

Nature Explore

Creative Projects Using Recyclables

Painting with Recyclables

Loose Parts Play

The Calming Effects of Art and Nature

Town Square Research to Practice Statements offer information from theory and research with examples and suggestions for what it means in your work with children.  This series of position statements includes topics such as the benefits of a home-like environment, the power of open-ended materials, and the benefits of incorporating the arts.

Town Square Research to Practice: The Power of Open-Ended Materials