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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Physical Development Between three and six years, children rapidly acquire new gross- and fine-motor skills. Activities using loose parts help them develop confidence in their abil- ity to use their bodies for their own purposes. For example, children gain self- assurance as they climb, step, jump, and balance from tree stump to tree stump. During this phase, children become aware of their bodies’ positions in space, including how to move cautiously when constructing a fort or climbing on large wooden spools to attach ropes to a tree branch. Small loose parts like shells, stones, corks, and craft sticks help them develop their small muscles and hand- eye coordination. Children need ample opportunities to manipulate a range of materials to develop their fine-motor skills (Copple and Bredekamp 2009). Social-Emotional Development Loose parts also support children’s sense of belonging, their inclusiveness, their willingness to take risks, and their passion—all critical elements in social- emotional development. While these characteristics may be evident as a result of children’s engagement in different school experiences, activities and materials that are diverse, open-ended, and unstructured best nurture children’s social- emotional growth. Marc Armitage assessed the effectiveness of a pilot study in the United Kingdom involving the introduction of loose parts into primary school play yards during lunchtime. The study revealed that providing loose parts significantly enhanced inclusion for all children and helped improve children’s relationships and self-confidence. Additionally, play with loose parts increased children’s collaboration, negotiation skills, risk taking, con- flict resolution, communication, and problem solving. Adults reported that children engaged with loose parts were more occupied, had fewer disputes, and had less bad behavior than with the school’s traditional play yard equipment. Interest- ingly, the study also found that the adults had a better experience with their school day (Armitage 2009). Our experience observing different types of early learning environments also illustrates the influence and impact of loose parts on children’s social compe- tency. One center type consists of typical play equipment: climbing structure, play house, tricycles, balls, and lots of room to run; all appropriate equipment for a center. These environments, however, are mainly dominated by children’s loose parts 9 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL