I'm not sure where I have been, but I've just come to learn the term "loose parts" in reference to early education and play and I've become obsessed with the idea behind it. I stumbled upon the term over on Instagram through some inspiring Montessori, Waldorf and Mama accounts I love and have been having so much fun gathering as many loose parts as I can find around the house and in nature to put in trays and baskets for my girl to explore. I love that by offering her random objects she's forced to use her imagination in a brand new way. Traditionally with Montessori and how I set our playroom up, materials are set out and intended to be completed in a certain fashion. What I love about this is the child's ability to be independent and how it encourages a sense of accomplishment and confidence by being able to work to completion. There is a lot of space and opportunity in Montessori for creativity and art but not typically in this way - where materials are just offered to them and it's up to them to create.
From around our house and in our yard we were able to put several trays and baskets together including, cubes, circular disks, leaves, rocks, sticks, and beads. We started saving the tops to all of our squeezies and our toilet paper and paper towel rolls as well. I also deconstructed some of our Montessori materials that Ru doesn't use much right now to create a tray of spindles, tablets, and counters, but again it will be totally up to her to decide what to do with them- earlier she created a robot with them and right now she is cooking her leaves, rocks and sticks in her play kitchen. She also discovered that if she places the wooden cubes in an interesting design, she can create a maze and uses the beads to navigate it. So cool! I can't wait to see where this new type of play takes her and her imagination!