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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Dramatic and Symbolic Play Loose parts encourage dramatic and symbolic play, indoors and out. These materials offer children the chance to embody the worlds of their imaginations and to create complex stories and scripts assisted by props. Stones become roads and homes for pets and pretend families. Tree branches serve as supports for imaginary campfires and roasting marshmallows. Loose parts offer children opportunities to understand their past experiences and to engage in realistic, complex representations of their daily lives. Such objects keep them in the present, test multiple ideas and pos- sibilities for future use, and stimulate children to plan and commu- nicate their plans to other children and adults (Bretherton 1998; Singer, Golinkoff, and Hirsh-Pasek 2006). Language and Literacy Stan Kuczaj’s research stresses the relationship between spontaneous play and language and literacy development, arguing that all four aspects of human lan- guage systems (phonological, syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic) become incor- porated into young children’s play (Kuczaj 1985). Loose parts promote language development when children use them as props to engage in rich conversations and storytelling with peers and adults. Describing the items they manipulate, children can test new, complex words and engage in productive arguments that increase their critical-thinking skills. They make connections between loose parts, the books they have read, and the stories they have heard. They use loose parts to plan and draw their ideas and interactions (Bohling, Saarela, and Miller 2010). Ample, continuous use of loose parts helps children improve their memo- ries, vocabularies, and literacy. Art Children often express their ideas and feelings through art. An open art studio offers them tools and materials for telling their stories. Adding loose parts to the art area can enhance their creativity and help them extend their ideas and ques- tions. Friedrich Froebel, the father of the kindergarten movement, argued that young children benefit from making their own art and enjoying the art of others. He considered art activities important parts of supporting the “full and all-sided development of children” (Froebel 2005). When loose parts are added to your art loose parts 17 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL