Loose Parts for Active Play & Learning

The theory of loose parts was first put forward by Simon Nicholson in the 1970s, and states that the creative potential of an environment increased with the number and variety of flexible materials within it. Loose parts are defined as materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. Loose parts can be natural or synthetic and manufactured. They are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials. Loose parts can include a variety of simple equipment pieces. Think balls, hoops, ropes, cones, parachutes, scarves, bean bags. You can enrich your existing play environment with the addition of mobile and low cost active play equipment.

We traditionally use simple equipment to play structured games with rules, but I want you to think about letting the children use these open-ended materials for unstructured play, creating and designing their own challenges and games. What if you put out some balls, hoops, scarves, bean bags

Loose Parts For Active Play and Learning - Sharron Krull

The children may become curious about what the materials are and how to use them.  They will then begin to explore the materials in different ways using their imaginations and strengthening their problem-solving skills. This leads to discovering that the materials can do many things. Discovery results in pleasure.  Pleasure results in repetition. This process of curiosity, exploration, and discovery is the cycle of learning.

Now, I could give you an awesome list of what the children came up with, but I’m not going to do that. I want to suggest that you observe and acknowledge their creations, celebrating their discoveries and experiments. Perhaps the next day add another loose part (i.e., a rope). The ideas of loose parts you can use is only limited by your and the children’s imaginations.

Benefits of Loose Parts:

  • Enables children to manipulate their environment, to experiment, and to interact with materials
  • Helps children actively construct knowledge from their own experiences.
  • Encourages interaction among children and cooperative play
  • Increases risk-taking, conflict resolution, and communication
  • Deepens critical thinking and problem solving
  • Promotes divergent and creative thinking
  • More symbolic and imaginative play
  • Supports gross and fine motor skills
  • Developmentally inclusive

Give children the time, space, and an ample variety of loose parts to discover and create with.

Loose parts are all about active play and learning!

Product Recommendations:

High-Bounce Play Balls Set of 6 (BOUNCE)

Excellerations Brawny Tough Rainbow Parachutes (P6)

Brawny Tough Activity Hoops (HOOPSET)

Zebra Hoops Set of 6 (HULA)

Nylon Jump Ropes (RPST)

Rainbow Movement Scarf Classroom Pack (SCARFSET)

Excellerations Super Sensory Beanbags Set of 12 (COOLBEAN)

Colored Beanbags Set of 12 (CBB)

Colored Cones Set of 10 (SETC)

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Cooking Up Fun in the Mud Kitchen

by Sharron Krull


Sharron July 1

International Mud Day was June 29. Did you miss it? Children from all over the world celebrated by experiencing the natural joys of playing in the mud! My 9-year-old grandson, Tate, didn’t hesitate to join in the fun!

A wonderful and inviting addition to your outdoor classroom is the mud kitchen. A mud kitchen encourages dramatic play and allows for the messy, creative, and sensory experiences that all children need.

Sharron July 2

This Mud Kitchen is made from eucalyptus wood and has a working pump that you can fill with water. Children will love using the real faucet to make muddy concoctions and pretend food. Kids can even wash up in the sink when they are done playing. There is a shelf and hooks for storing kitchenware.

Sharron July 3

Add the Stainless Steel Utensil Set—which includes a colander, three pans, lid, whisk, ladle, slotted spoon, spaghetti server, wooden spoons, forks, large spoons, small spoons, and knives—to give your mud kitchen an authentic feel.

Time to get started! No mud, no problem! You can buy topsoil from a nursery or a building supplier. By mixing soil, water, sand and other natural materials like leaves, pebbles, or grass any chef can mix up a culinary treat. Bon appétit!

  • Birthday Flower Cake—dirt + sand + water + flowers + small sticks as candles
  • Mud Pie—soil + rocks + water + sprinkle of sand
    Sharron July 4
  • Dirt Cupcake—dirt + water + muffin tins/cupcake liners + small rocks + shells
  • Petal Soup—flower petals + blades of grass + water
  • Stick Stew—dirt + grass + leaves + sticks + acorns + water
  • Hot Chocolate—dirt + water + sun
  • Dirt Dough—3 cups dirt + 3 cups flour + 1 cup oil
  • Leaf Bread—dirt + flour + water + leaves on top

    Product Recommendations
    :
    Mud Kitchen
    (MUDKIT)
    Prep & Serve Stainless-Steel Utensil Set (PREPTIME)

OUTDOOR CLASSROOM LEARNING CENTERS—THE SKY’S THE LIMIT!

Open the door and turn your learning environment inside out.  Maximize outdoor play by moving learning centers outdoors, opening up new possibilities for stimulating children’s creativity, self-discovery, and imagination.  Children can do virtually anything outside that they can do inside—the sky’s the limit!  By providing outdoor learning centers, teachers can change materials and props depending on the interests and ideas that emerge from the children. Whether you have green space or not, here are some ideas of what centers you might include in your outdoor learning environment.

Science & Nature Center

Science comes alive as children explore nature and make first-hand observations.  Provide containers which children can use to collect their findings (i.e., leaves, sticks, rocks, mud) and a table where they can explore the items with all their senses.  (Provide tools for investigations: magnifying glasses, binoculars, bug jars, tweezers, rulers).

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Sand & Water Center

Not every outdoor environment can have a sandbox but they can easily accommodate a sand and water table. This learning center is the best place for messy play as it is suitable for many sensory experiences.  Sand and water equal math and science learning! They alone or together provide opportunities for endless experimenting.

Dramatic Play Center

Set the stage to inspire children’s imagination through dramatic play outside.  Dramatic play allows children to make sense of the adult world in a child-friendly setting.  It also develops necessary skills in cooperation, language, role-plays, and leadership. Put an outdoor kitchen near the sand area and discover “what’s cooking.”  All that “good food” needs to be eaten. An outdoor picnic table just their size makes for family-style dining.

Art Center

Children who may not participate in art experiences indoors may join in willingly when art is presented in the familiar and comfortable territory of the outdoors. An easel (free standing or hanging easel) is a must to include.  If no easel, a wall, chain-link or wood fence and butcher paper provides many opportunities for children to work on vertical surfaces.

Block/Construction Center

Take block play to new heights by moving them outside.  Many engineering feats are possible with block play. The block construction area encourages language, social engagement, cooperation, problem-solving, creativity, imagination, and self-esteem. It can be taxing transporting those wooden indoor blocks outdoors. Foam blocks designed to look just like real cinder blocks, bricks, planks, and concrete pavers are lightweight.  Plan for them to have their own “home” outside, thus being available and accessible to the children. Children enjoy having accessories to use with block play.  Small cars, trucks, animals, people extend children’s ideas.

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I’m not finished yet! Having been an Outdoor Teacher for 12 years, I’m looking forward to sharing a few more learning centers and many activities that you can include in your outdoor classroom. The sky’s the limit!

Recommended Products:

  • OUTSCI (Outdoor Learning Kit Science)
  • SENMIX (Outdoor Sensory Mixing Table)
  • OBSERVE (Nature Observation Set – 24 Pieces)
  • TOOLCHST (Science Exploration Kit – 72 Pieces)
  • XCSG60120 (Sandbox with Cover—5’ x 10’ x 10”)
  • SCLEAR (Sand and Water Activity Table)
  • MPC3006 (MyPerfectClassroom Double Sand and Water Table)
  • PLAYSAND (Sandtastik White Play Sand 25 lbs.)
  • OUTKIT (Outdoor Kitchen Set)
  • PICTAB (Outdoor Picnic Table)
  • MOBEASEL (Colorations Premium Mobile Storage Easel)
  • HDE (Hanging Easel)
  • 4018 (Butcher Roll—White, 18” Wide, 40 LB.)
  • ALLBUILD (Excellerations Jumbo Foam Construction Set)
  • OUTBLOCK (Outdoor Learning Kit Blocks)
  • PEEPSET (Excellerations Photo Block Play People)

 

To order any of the products listed above or to view our wide array of products, please visit our website at discountschoolsupply.com or contact our customer service department at 800-627-2829.

 

Streamer Ribbons & Scarves – A Rainbow of Fun!

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Put a scarf or ribbon in a child’s hand and movement automatically begins! Dance, leap, run, twirl, spin, gallop, jump, throw, catch – the active play it provides is never ending! I highly recommend that you have enough scarves or ribbons for each child to have one for each hand.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes:
Promotes cross-lateral movements (midline development)
Develops body and spatial awareness
Directionality
Laterality
Gross and fine motor coordination
Eye-hand coordination
Moderate to vigorous physical activity
Agility
Flexibility
Listening skills
Cooperative play
Creativity
Imagination

Movement Exploration and Creative Movement
Using one ribbon or scarf, move it…

  • Up and down
  • Side to side
  • In a circle
  • In a figure 8
  • Above your head
  • Below your knees
  • Between your legs
  • At your side
  • In front of you
  • Behind you
  • Like a broom (moving it side to side in front of body)
  • Like a fishing pole (casting or throwing it out in front of body)
  • Like a hammer (moving it up and down with quick wrist movements)
  • Like ocean waves (shaking it in front of body)
  • Like a rainbow (moving it in an arc from one side of body to the other
  • Like a river (dragging it across the floor or ground)
  • Like tree branches in a windstorm (hold it above the head and swaying from side to side)
  • Like a tornado (spinning around and raising and lowering it)

swish

Dance, Dance, Dance
Start the music and encourage the children to dance and move about freely in the open space. When the music stops, they are to freeze (stand motionless like a statue). When the music starts again, children resume dancing. Try to trick the dancers by starting and stopping the music quickly. They love the element of surprise! Music suggestions: “I Like To Move It” by Crazy Frog (fast dancing – suggest dancing using locomotor movements—jumping with two feet, hopping, jogging). “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland (slow dancing – suggest twirling, leaping, and floating to the music).

On Your Mark, Get Set, RUN!
With streamer ribbon or scarf in hand held high above head, have children run from one boundary to another. What child doesn’t like to run! They will ask to do it again and again. Music suggestion: “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s movie, “Pocahontas.”

Follow the Leader
Have children stand in a line one person behind the other. When the music starts, the child at the head of the line does a movement with the scarf or streamer and all children behind the leader will move their scarf in the same way as the leader (i.e., waving scarf overhead, jumping with the streamer, swinging arms back and forth with scarf, etc.) When the music stops, the child that was at the front of the line goes to the back of the line and the next child in line becomes the leader. The music starts again and the game continues until everyone has had a chance to be the leader. Music suggestion: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

 

Tails
Set up boundaries using ropes or cones in the available space. Each child tucks a streamer or scarf into their waistband behind their back. The ribbon is now their tail. The game starts when the music starts and the children run in the available space. The game is played like tag, but instead of tagging each other, children pull each others ribbon out of their waistbands and drop them to the ground. The child whose ribbon is pulled, picks up his streamer ribbon (tail), goes to “the tail repair area” (a designated spot, i.e., door, tree, etc.) to replace the tail in their waistband. Once the ribbon or scarf is secure in their waistband, the child returns to the game and resumes pulling tails (ribbons/scarves). Music suggestion: “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer.

Discount School Supply® Product Recommendations

  • Rainbow Dancing Wrist Bands (RNBW)
  • Streamer Scarves (SWISH)

Rollin’ in the New Year Roller Board Style

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The roller board, aka scooter board, is a super-duper piece of equipment to acquire. Inclement weather—pouring rain, snow flurries or freezing temperatures—can keep us inside. Pull out the roller board and add it to your environment for indoor play. Here are 10 rockin’ and rollin’ ideas and activities appropriate for three to five year olds. First, though, some safety considerations and benefits:

Safety Recommendations:

  • Only sit or lay on the roller board
  • Never let a child stand on a roller board
  • Keep hands clear from the bottom of the roller board
  • Use handles to carry the roller board
  • Tie back long hair and tuck in loose clothing
  • Check wheels regularly
  • Prevent roller boards from crashing into others

Benefits:

  • Upper body strengthening (arms, legs and hands)
  • Core strengthening
  • Motor planning
  • Balance
  • Bilateral coordination
  • Physical endurance
  • Tactile stimulation
  • Kinesthetic stimulation
  • Vestibular stimulation
  • Crossing midline skills
  • Eye-hand coordination

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And now for the activities!

Movement Exploration Experiences

Have children explore different ways to move around the space using the roller board.

  • One hand on roller board
  •  Two hands on roller board
  • Two hands and one knee on roller board
  • Kneel on roller board
  • Sit on roller board, move backwards
  • Sit on roller board, move forward
  • Lie on stomach (prone position), move forward
  • Lie on stomach, move backwards

Hoop Ball Shooting

  • Place Hoop Ball Goal in open space
  • Child sits on roller board holding a ball
  • Child moves forward using feet to the Hoop Ball Goal and attempts to shoot the ball into the hoop
  • As the child becomes more proficient, challenge him/her to move farther way from the hoop (no more than six to eight feet)

Rope Pull

    • Adult holds one end of a long jump rope
    • Rope goes under roller board and between wheels
    • Child takes prone position (lying on stomach) on roller board and grips rope at opposite end from the adult
    • Child pulls self toward adult using a hand-over-hand grip on the rope. Feet do not touch the floor

Puzzle Piece Play

  • Scatter puzzle pieces at one end of the room or space
  • Place the corresponding puzzle boards at the other end
  •  Child sits on roller board
  • child moves around space using feet, finds and grasps a puzzle piece
  • Child travels with puzzle piece to find the matching puzzle board and puts the piece into its place
  • Game continues until all the puzzles have their matching pieces

Roller Board & Cone Obstacle

  • Set up three cones in a line about 3-4 feet from each other
  • Child takes prone position on roller board and uses hands and arms to propel roller board around cones and back to starting position. Body is balanced on roller board, feet do not touch floor, and hands and arms work in rhythmic coordination.
  • Child can try the same challenge sitting on knees on the roller board.

Free Ride

  • Child sits cross-legged on roller board
  • Child holds a hoop and adult pulls the child around
  • Speed of travel depends on the child’s stability on the roller board and his or her enjoyment of speed

Fly Like an Eagle

  • Need large, clear space to play
  • Child takes prone position on roller board
  • Tell child he/she is going to “fly like an eagle” across the room or down a long hallway
  • Adult holds on to child’s feet and gives child a big push
  • Child will have to work hard to keep head, arms (held out like wings), and legs lifted while moving forward

Body Bowling

  • Set up bowling pins at one end of the room
  • Just like in the “Fly Like and Eagle” activity above, child takes prone position on the roller board
  • Child keeps arms out in front (i.e. a superman “flying” position)
  • Adult holds onto child’s feet and gives child a big push forward
  • Child attempts to knock down the bowling pins

Grocery Shopping

  • Scatter plastic fruits and vegetables around the room
  • On the opposite end of the room, place rainbow colored baskets
  • Child sits on roller board
  • Child moves around space using feet and picks up a fruit or vegetable
  • Child travels with the piece of play food and puts it into the matching colored basket
  • Game continues until all of the fruits and vegetables have been “bought.”

Crazy Driver

  • Mark of a path or road using Mavalus Removable Poster Tape. Create a single line of tape or two lines to form a “lane” for the child to stay in. Make curves, zigzags, twists or turns.
  • Challenge child to “drive” along the road either in prone position, sitting on knees, or sitting on bottom

Product Recommendations

Discount School Supply NAEYC Booth Features “Sharin’ with Sharron”

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Hi all! It’s been a while since I last posted. Time sure flies when you’re having fun! The past few months have found me conducting staff trainings and presenting keynotes and workshops at many fall early childhood conferences in Tennessee, Nebraska, Georgia, New Jersey, Florida, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. I think it’s the best job in the world as I travel around the country sharing fun and engaging curriculum activities and resources. Why not join me in Los Angeles, CA, November 2-4, at the 2016 National Association for the Education of Young Children Annual Conference in the Discount School Supply Exhibit Booth. I will be presenting several mini-workshops titled, “GIGGLES & WIGGLES! MUSIC, MOVEMENT & CREATIVE ACTIVITIES FOR YOUNG CHILDREN,” demonstrating a variety of techniques and props for sharing music, movement, rhythm instruments, finger plays, stories, puppets, and playful learning activities. Have fun, get inspired, and take back to your classroom lots of new ideas to make group time more active and enjoyable for the children and you!

 
circletime_dvdAs a preschool teacher of twenty plus years, I conducted Circle Time twice daily. I’ve learned from experience what works and doesn’t work. The children have taught me well! As a child development college instructor, I taught music and movement curriculum classes. I am the co-author of the book, Circle Time Activities for Young Children and have also produced a DVD of Circle Time.

I keep learning new activities from other teachers, musicians, and librarians and enjoy sharing them. Many of those activities have become classic favorites. Every teacher needs to hit their “refresh button”, so make sure to join me in the Discount School Supply booth. During your short time with me—

  1. Learn how to provide Instant Activity with Music
  2. Sing Songs & Finger Plays
  3. Reenact Stories & Nursery Rhymes
  4. Discover “Books That Move You”
  5. Participate in Cooperative Group Games
  6. Play with Simple Equipment and Loose Materials

Here’s a sample of some the activities you will participate in…

Shake Your Hands Up High
(Tune: Do Your Ears Hang Low)
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 A good action song to wake up the body and the brain! Stand up and follow what the words tell you to do.

Shake your hands up high,
Stomp your feet down low,
Rub your tummy in the middle,
And around you go.
Tap your knees in the front,
Tap your heels in the back,
Put your hands together and clap, clap, clap!

Sing it again, but do it a little bit faster. Then sing it one more time even faster!

Here is an Alligator
Animal Finger Play

Here is an alligator, (Right hand forms alligator)
Sitting on a log, (Right hand on left forearm)
Down in the pool, (Make horizontal circle with arms in front of body)
He spies a little frog. (Put hands around eyes like binoculars)
In goes the alligator, (Diving motion with hands)
Round goes the log, (Circle forearms in front of you)
Splash goes the water, (Hands go up in the air)
Away swims the frog. (Breast stroke swimming motion with hands)

My Hands
Body Part Rhyme

My hands upon my head I place,
On my shoulders, on my face.
At my waist and by my side,
And now behind me they will hide.
Then I will raise them way up high,
And let my fingers fly, fly, fly.
Then clap, clap, clap and one-two-three,
Let’s see how quiet they can be!

Snickelfritz Partners Switch
A Cooperative Game

  1. Children find a partner and stand Back to Back.
  2. The teacher/game leader calls out a body part and partners react quickly while touching the body part mentioned. For example, the teacher might say, “Hands to Hands.” The partners turn around, face each other, and touch hands to hands.
  3. When the teacher says another body part, the partners then put those body parts together (releasing the last touched body part).
  4. Other body parts to call out: Shoulder to Shoulder, Knee to Knee, Hip to Hip, Elbow to Elbow, etc.
  5. Whenever the teacher/game leader says, “Snickelfritz Partners Switch” all players must hurry and find a new partner. With the new partner, they stand Back To Back ready to listen. Play resumes with the teacher calling out different body parts.
  6. Giving the command, “Snickelfritz Partners Switch” frequently gives children a chance to interact with all members in the group as they have to find a different partner every time.
  7. There is no right or wrong way to connect body parts to each other. Point out the different ways that partners completed the challenge.
  8. A fun way to end the game is to give the command, “Hug to Hug!”

Parachute Play the Nursery Rhyme Way

Nursery rhymes have been around for centuries and are a wonderful way to promote a variety of literacy skills—oral language development, phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension and vocabulary. Parachute play provides children with important physical activity and exercise while building gross motor skills, coordination, perceptual motor skills and muscle development. And let’s not forget the social interaction that occurs when using the parachute. It creates an instant circle, allowing everyone to feel a part of the group and encouraging eye contact and interaction between all participants. So let’s combine nursery rhymes with body movements using the parachute. Everybody hold on to the edge of the parachute and start singing and moving.


Parachute Play

 

The Wheels on the Bus
The wheels on the bus go round and round (hold parachute with one hand and walk around in a circle)
The door on the bus goes open and shut (pull chute forward and backward)
The horn on the bus goes beep, beep, beep (two feet together jump/bounce in place)
The windows on the bus go open and shut (raise parachute above head and lower parachute by touching toes)
The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish (hold parachute with 2 hands in front of body and move arms from side to side)
The babies on the bus go waa, waa, waa (pretend to wipe eyes with parachute—like a handkerchief)

 

The Grand Old Duke of York (Tune: “A-Hunting We Will Go)
Oh, the grand old Duke of York, (all hold parachute and march in place)
He had ten thousand men,
He marched them up to the top of (raise parachute above head)
The hill and he marched
Them down again. (pull parachute down and touch toes)
And when they were up they were up. (raise parachute above head)
And when they were down they were down. (pull parachute down and touch toes)
And when they were only half way up,
They were neither up nor down.  (everyone half-way up)

 

Sally Go Round the Sun
(everyone holding parachute with one hand walking around in a circle, singing)
Sally go round the sun.
Sally go round the moon.
Sally go round the chimney tops
Every afternoon.
BOOM!  (all fall down)

 

London Bridge
(children go underneath the parachute while adults lift and lower it above their heads)
London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down.
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.

(adults move parachute back and forth above the heads of the children underneath)
Take a key and lock her up,
Lock her up, lock her up.
Take a key and lock her up,
My fair lady.

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The Itsy-Bitsy Spider
The itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the water spout. (raise parachute above head)
Down came the rain (lower parachute below waist)
And washed the spider out. (with parachute at waist move arms from side to side)
Out came the sun (raise parachute above head)
And dried up all the rain. (with parachute at waist shake it up and down)
And the itsy-bitsy spider
Climbed up the spout again. (raise parachute above head)

 

Ring Around the Rosy
(everyone holding parachute with one hand walking around in a circle, singing)
Ring around the rosy,
A pocket full of posies.
Ashes, ashes!
We all fall down! (all fall down)

(while sitting on ground, holding parachute, singing)
Cows are in the meadow,
Eating buttercups.
Thunder, lightning!
We all jump up! (jump up while sliding voice from low to high and lifting parachute).

 

Pop Goes The Weasel
(everyone holding parachute with one hand walking around in a circle, singing)
All around the cobbler’s bench,
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey thought it all in fun,
Pop! goes the weasel. (stop walking, stand in place and pop parachute in the air) 

(everyone holding parachute with one hand walking around in a circle, singing)
A penny for a spool of thread,
A penny for a needle.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel. (stop walking, stand in place and pop parachute in the air)

 

Product Recommendations:
Excellerations® Brawny Tough Rainbow Parachutes – 6’Dia.
Excellerations® Brawny Tough Rainbow Parachutes – 12’Dia.
Excellerations® Brawny Tough Rainbow Parachutes – 20’Dia.
Parachute Play Pack
Nursery Rhyme Wooden Characters – Set of 26
Wheels on the Bus Book & CD Set
The Itsy, Bitsy Spider Book & CD Set