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Bridging Research and Practice: Seven Loose Parts Myths Busted

by Carla Gull, Suzanne Levenson Goldstein and Tricia Rosengarten
November/December 2020
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/bridging-research-and-practice-seven-loose-parts-myths-busted/5025634/

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Loose parts seems to be a popular buzzword; however, the principles have been around for many decades, and are formative in building creativity and imagination. Simon Nicholson, the landscape architect credited with the theory, explains creativity as “playing around with the components and variables of the world in order to make experiments and discover new things and form new concepts” (Nicholson, 1971). This playing around seems ambiguous, with many misconceptions about the definition and purpose of loose parts.

As researchers, we sought to find a unifying definition around loose parts using a scoping review, searching academic research articles in various databases around loose parts, and visiting early childhood and outdoor classrooms. After wading through over 2,400 articles, we systematically narrowed the articles down to 15. In each article, we searched for loose parts represented, definitions of loose parts, and descriptor words (Gull, Bogunovich, Levenson Goldstein, & Rosengarten, 2019). As we analyzed the articles, we created lists of loose parts often found in outdoor classrooms, made surprising loose parts discoveries, and created a working definition of loose parts.

Additionally, one author, Carla Gull, hosts the Facebook group Loose Parts Play. Through our ...

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