The Pedagogy of Loose Parts: An In-Depth Exploration of ‘The Intelligence of Materials’

The Pedagogy of Loose Parts: An In-Depth Exploration of 'The Intelligence of Materials'


Here are some questions to get you going:

  • Name ten items that could be considered loose parts?
  • Identify three reasons why loose parts play is important to children’s learning and development?
  • Name the role of adults when it comes to supporting loose parts play?

Have you heard of loose parts? Do you wonder how to integrate these into the curriculum or how to maximise their use in the everyday? For some educators, loose parts or ‘intelligent materials’ offer endless possibilities. For other educators they are just beginning the journey of integrating loose parts into the program but haven’t yet figured out how to maximise their use. In this workshop we will explore the potential for learning by utilising the varied materials we offer children, from infancy onwards. Over the day there will be a focus on the theoretical underpinnings of loose parts and loose parts play, and together with a hands-on component, we will play with ideas and build knowledge together as a community of learners.

Areas of focus will be:

  • The why of open-ended materials
  • Ideas for sourcing a large variety of complex and interesting materials
  • How to introduce materials to children successfully to encourage participation and deep level engagement
  • The ‘grammar of materials’ (Vea Vecchi, 2010) - a way of thinking about materials inspired by the educational project from Reggio Emilia
  • The educator’s role in listening and interpreting the play
  • Responsive planning
  • Strategies to support a commitment to sustainability
  • Ethical considerations when using loose parts
  • Organisation - creating systems to support the management of materials, both indoors and out.
  • Time to play! 

Upon completion of this workshop, you will be able to:

  • Identify the role that loose parts play in an early childhood setting
  • Discuss how to make best use of loose parts
  • Articulate the ways in which loose parts can be integrated both into the physical environment and into teaching strategies
  • Define a pedagogy of loose parts and how it can be used as part of everyday teaching
  • Discuss and develop resources specific to identified learning needs 



Completing this course – The Pedagogy of Loose Parts (6 hours) may be used as Teacher Identified Professional Development/Learning addressing: APTS 6.3.2 from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation.


  • APTS 6.3.2: Contribute to collegial discussions and apply constructive feedback from colleagues to improve professional knowledge and practice


This course aligns with:

  • QA 1: Educational program and practice