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Valuing Loose Parts
July 31, 2020
The wider the range of possibilities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences.
-Loris Malaguzzi, Founder of the Reggio Emilia approach
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In the article, “Turn Children Loose Outside!,” which forms the basis for the newest Exchange Reflections Learning Outdoors with Natural Loose Parts,” author Elizabeth Richards writes:

“The theory of loose parts has been around for decades, coined by landscape architect Simon Nicholson. In an article first published in Landscape Architecture in October 1971, he wrote, ‘The theory of loose parts says, quite simply, the following: In any environment, both the degree of inventiveness and creativity, and the possibility of discovery, are directly proportional to the number and kind of variables in it.’ Nicholson felt that the world was very restrictive for children, prohibiting them from playing with anything that might satisfy their curiosity and sense of discovery. Nicholson thought there was a better way: allowing children to mess around with loose parts in their play. Simply put, the theory encourages providing children with ample space and a variety of materials that can be moved, manipulated, changed and experimented with in any manner they see fit…

Administrators and teachers are recognizing just how much learning happens when children are given the space to be their most creative selves. More and more often, I see loose parts deliberately placed in classrooms I visit, and intentionally incorporated into teachers’ planning. This is less true in the outdoor spaces that programs use, but I believe it is time to embrace loose parts play outside, as well. The benefits gained from loose parts play, combined with the benefits of prolonged outdoor experiences, can help us nurture the natural creativity and thirst for discovery that young children possess.”





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Exchange Reflections are designed to help a team of people meet in-person or live online to think deeply together about a topic using an article from Exchange magazine as a guide. Included are discussion questions to help guide reflections, as well as a "Making Commitments" idea sheet to help prompt ideas into action and an Exchange Reflections Certificate. For your convenience, Exchange Reflections are available in PDF format and you can download immediately on your desktop.

We are offering a “choose your price” option during this challenging time. The regular price of Exchange Reflections (which you can distribute to your staff or students) is $10. For those of you able to pay regular price, thank you. It helps us keep paying our staff. For those of you who need to use the 50% off coupon, we understand. Times are tough right now and some budgets are on the edge. Please do what works in your own circumstances.

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