A Guide to Loose Parts Play

Loose parts play can be as straightforward as just popping lots of small bits and pieces in a basket or tray for your child to do with as they please. Simplicity is what we love, but if you’re finding your child isn’t too sure what to do with them or if you’d like to guide them a little we’ve put together some ideas for you.


Loose parts for maths…

Colour sorting– A big colour sorting activity isn’t just about learning colours, it can also be a nice calming activity that might help your child wind down before bedtime.

Creating patterns – We’ve created this printable pattern sheet to use with the TickiT Wooden Treasures, but it’s fairly easy enough to create your own with whatever loose parts you’re using. You can either use the loose parts themselves to start them off or draw a pattern on some paper.

Pattern Worksheet

Observing shapes – Drawing around loose parts is a fun way of exploring shapes as well as just naming the 3D shapes.

Measuring – Sorting from smallest to biggest, or for older ones just add a ruler into the mix and some paper and pencil to record the measurements.

Weighing – Set up your kitchen scales, some paper, pencil and some loose parts. We imagine this would be even more interesting with some proper old school scales but it’s a great activity for children to work on their number recognition, forming and for them to begin understanding weight.

Loose Parts - Weighing

Arithmetic – Whether they’re just starting to count to 10 or are doing more complex sums loose parts can help more visual learners and adding a physical action/activity to learning helps with retention.


Loose parts for creative activities…

Fill it up Puzzle – We’ve seen quite a few talented parents create cardboard fillable puzzles, like this incredible Earth one from @eyfsadventure.

Loose Parts Puzzle


Framed art – Put down some empty picture frames on a table or create a frame using some tape, it’s a great way to contain the artwork, which is especially good if you’re working with tiny loose parts.

Art Attack it – Channel the boss of transient art ‘Neil Buchanan’ and challenge your child to create a large scale picture.

Loose Parts Rainbow


Recreate it – Having some simple images for your child to recreate using their loose parts might be a great way to start them off.

Play dough – Loose parts and play dough are a brilliant combination, but if you don’t want to spend hours scrubbing the loose parts clean use ones that haven’t got too many ins and outs. We like to use our TickiT Wooden Nuts and Bolts as stamps with play dough.

Play Dough Loose Parts

Fill a shadow – On a sunny day find some shadows in the garden and fill them in with your loose parts.


Loose parts in small world play …

Forest scenery – The green cones and drops from TickiT make perfect trees and bushes, as do the mushrooms for an autumnal vibe.

Pirates – Loose parts like these Tokens and Jewels make fabulous treasure, arghh they do!

Loose Parts - Pirate Play

Loose parts in role play …

Playing shop – Apart from using them as currency, our eldest has enjoyed pretending they’re sweets, cakes, biscuits and vegetables.

Pizza – Using a circle of cardboard as a base and get your little ones ‘making’ pizza by using loose parts to represent their favourite toppings.


Our @ecotoyplay account on Instagram is a great place to check out more ways to play with loose parts or show us yours by using the tag #ecotoyplay.

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