Saturday, May 21, 2011

loose parts + imagination = their own obstacle course

 In a preschool playground filled with loose parts that the children are free to move around as they please, anything can happen.

Using anything they could get their hands on - wood planks, pavers, tyres, tree cookies, pallets, sticks, logs - a group of children began to build their own obstacle course.

It stretched from one end of the playground, down to the veranda and back again.


When they reached the concrete veranda they weren't deterred - out came the chalk to add another element to the obstacle course.

Given loose parts and good chunks of uninterrupted time for free play, children can design and build their own structures like this obstacle course

I never tire of watching the play that develops from providing materials that encourage manipulation, discovery and active engagement

Round and around and around they go...when they will stop, nobody knows:

Child built structures truly do provide more play value than just using a structure that adults have built, or that we teachers have set out for them.   And every day the children can choose to either add-on to yesterday’s structure, or tear it down and start over.

An obstacle course one day - a car ramp the next.  These materials are used and re-used in an endless variety of play experiences.

If you'd like more about loose parts play:


  1. Cathy @ pre-schoolplayMay 21, 2011 at 11:59 PM

    The children look like they are having a great time! I love their creativity and the fact that the activity doesn't belong to anyone, everyone is joining in:))

  2. Ditto to both the above - time + space + loose parts + no intrusive agenda from adults + wonderful, unpredictable learning.

  3. I love the creativity of loose parts! I love how similar, yet different the play is with them even all the way across the globe!

  4. I love how they combined so many different elements! The permanent play structures, the loose parts and the sidewalk chalk; all so much fun apart and even more fun together. Thanks so much for sharing this one as a part of the outdoor play link up.

  5. What very creative children you are guiding! They will become great world thinkers and problem-solvers some day.

  6. Loved this so much I featured it this week as one of my favorites! Also inspiring me to be on the hunt for more loose items for our backyard playspaces.