playdough and loose parts

a learning adventure

Last year, with the hope of upping my play dough game, I did a bit of googling and decided to add some loose parts to the textured rolling pins, play dough knives and cookie cutters that I put out for the kids.

My hope was that the kids would be more engaged, interactive and creative with the play dough.

That happened ... and more. I learned something. Again.  (Sometimes I am a Slow Learner.)

We were chatting, reading, cooking and learning about apples. We could have apple tree themed loose parts with green play dough.

Heck, I even had apple placemats for the kids to create apple trees on.

I told the kids' parents about my plan. 
I did get to see their thought processes and imaginations at work ...

Time for the teacher to be reminded how loose parts work.  Loose parts are bits and pieces that have no intrinsic meaning on their own.  Their meaning is what the child/creator brings to them.

Red gems and buttons are not necessarily red apples. Green buttons and gems can be what ever the play dough artist wants them to be. Sticks can be just about anything.

Over the days that I put out this play dough invitation for the kids to explore, they created a variety of things.

a green pancake with cherries around the outside

a pattern

a "something"

another "something"

a serpent with scales on its tail

And not one apple tree. Or anything that might have been an apple tree.  Nothing remotely connected with apple trees. 

What did I observe/remember/relearn/learn? 

• loose parts adds so much more to an activity than just the addition of some sticks, buttons and gems (or any other loose part)
• the environment is such an important teacher
• children are not empty vessels to be filled up with learning
• the children's learning is more important than my plan
• their learning is often deeper and wider than my plan
• to embrace the unexpected
• to enjoy the learning adventure



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