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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Loose Parts Are Captivating Loose parts are magnets to children, who are naturally curious and gravitate toward novel objects like stones, pinecones, and driftwood. For example, Dylan watched irresistible loose parts spiral from the trees in helicopter fashion. He gathered up the brittle, winged maple seeds and watched them swirl downward when he dropped them from the top of a climbing structure. Later that afternoon, he stuck the seeds straight up like candles in his sand cake. Then he proclaimed them “senshal” (essential) ingredients in dragon brew. Loose Parts Are Open-Ended Loose parts possess infinite play possibilities. They offer multiple rather than single outcomes: no specific set of directions accompanies them; no single result is inevitable. Unlike a jigsaw puzzle, whose pieces are meant to be fitted together in a specific way to make a single picture, loose parts can be joined in many ways. A scarf, for example, can become a blanket to swaddle a baby, a platform for a picnic, a fishing pond, a cover for a fort, or a veil covering the face of a bride. Loose parts can be taken apart and put back together, com- bined with other materials, morphed into whatever a child imag- ines. Blocks can become a tower, then taken apart and made into an enclosure. Stones can be added to the enclosure to serve as food for the farm animals in the block pasture. Next, that block can represent a car or a fish in a pond. Loose Parts Are Mobile Loose parts can be easily moved by children while they’re play- ing. For example, Aaron moved driftwood and logs across the play yard to make a fort. Meredith carried acorns from the nature area to the dramatic play area to serve as food for her imaginary puppy. 4  chapter 1 COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL