Think outside the box.
There are so many possibilities at your local Dollar Store for learning materials we call as, “Loose Parts”. You can slowly build an assortment of “loose parts” for your child to explore and experiment with. These versatile materials can be used over and over.
Loose parts provides so many endless options and opportunities for learning skills such as: numeracy/math, fostering imagination, creativity, language and vocabulary, critical thinking, hand-eye-coordination and fine motor skills.
Choose an assortment of materials with different textures, shapes, and colours and size to provide endless possibilities. In the photo above, there are: Medium and large popsicle sticks, (both natural and in colour), Pompoms, Pipe cleaners, wooden clothes pins, feathers, buttons and coloured matchsticks.
“I wonder what you can do with these?” There are no rules. These materials can be used for building, sorting, making patterns, counting, stacking, making portraits, and more. Give your children opportunities to stretch their imagination.
You may recognize these materials in the containers. These are just some of the ones used in our StrongStart classroom. Majority of these are from the Dollar store as well: pompoms, assorted sized googly eyes, bottle caps, wooden cubes, buttons, coloured matchsticks, seashells and dried beans. I stored these materials in recycled take-out containers for easy access. Please keep in mind, smaller items are a choking hazard and always supervise your child when using these items.
Another great way to acquire FREE materials is to collect them on your walks. Sticks, rocks, pinecones, chestnuts are just a few you can start collecting. Make sure they dry out properly before storing in containers and then they can be kept for years.
I invite you to start collecting and building your own “Loose Part” learning materials. Keep an open mind about how these materials can be used. Children always surprise me with how they choose to use these items. Give them the freedom to explore and create using these open-ended materials.