Loose parts play in public spaces is not yet commonplace in Halifax, Canada, PlayGroundology‘s home turf. When public play happenings, starring kid encounters with the bric à brac of ropes, tires, fabric, boxes, etc., do occur they’re awash in magical aha! moments at a somewhat more accelerated rate than in places where this form of play is more on the map.
Dragon alert – Looseparts-apalooza, community led play from Adventure Play YHZ – Findlay Centre, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia – Canada
Most kids here have never seen anything of the like, a conglomeration of matériels gathered with the express purpose of fueling child-led play. First contact moments – when kids meet loose parts play – run a range of reactions: bemusement, tentativeness, to full throttled exuberant exploration.
My evidence-based experience in this topsy-turvy, quasi-anarchic world is still squarely in the neophyte range and is more anecdotal in nature rooted as it is in personal observations and shared commentary. What does seem prevalent though is that kids, even those older ones who are developing a veneer of studied cynicism, are quickly shifting into gear and embracing an engaged abandon in landscapes of their own making.
Apprentices – Nova Scotia Youth Running Series – loose parts play at Think Pink Anti-Bullying Race – Sackville, Nova Scotia – Canada
The luminosity of loose parts kids is striking. Their intent is intense and light at the same time. Their inner space reaches out to the outer place refashioning it with laughter and ideas and anything else at hand. The simplicity calls out for experimentation, for daring, for kidcentricity.
Girls with giant’s straw – Looseparts-apalooza, community led play from Adventure Play YHZ – Findlay Centre, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia – Canada
There is a charge coursing through the air. Kids who don’t know each other are playing together and moving beyond individual age groups. Cooperative play is de rigueur even though no adults have requested, or suggested it. Kids are testing their own limits taking risks they are comfortable with. On the periphery, parents are witness to a new play dynamic. Some say they will get loose parts for home use.
Loose parts spoke to the kids making a visceral connection. The kids in turn spoke back with their animated faces, their inventiveness, their thirst to make and build, their luminosity. In their actions with no prescribed outcomes and a touch of independence they embody a phenomenology of play.
Play crew – Nova Scotia Youth Running Series – loose parts play at Think Pink Anti-Bullying Race – Sackville, Nova Scotia – Canada
As I continue to participate with others in making loose parts play events available in public spaces, I will be paying more attention to documenting ‘first contact’ through photos and video. There is a lot of rich material there just waiting to be tapped.
In the interim, here are a few loose parts resources, listed alphabetically, for those looking for some ideas and inspiration.
Hidden velocity – Looseparts-apalooza, community led play from Adventure Play YHZ – Findlay Centre, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia – Canada
I’m hoping to play the loose parts tunes for quite some time. We’d love to hear about your loose parts play…..