Loose parts play at Aubin Grove

For adults, old or broken items are often seen as junk.

But for a child, they can represent the perfect pieces to make their next great invention.

At Aubin Grove Primary School, there has been a long-standing focus on loose parts and the important role they can play in a child’s creativity.

Currently there are many loose parts items available to children in kindergarten and pre-primary at playtime, including old computer keyboards, phones and vacuum cleaners, while Year 3 students also have access to various items.

While some items have been donated by families of students, the school has been fortunate to have the support of local business owners Tony and Jo Berry.

Their company Tidy Up is based in Jandakot, and is a hands-on rubbish removal service that is built on a premise of recycling, donating and re-purposing the rubbish they collect, with landfill an absolute last resort.

Last term the Year 1 class from Room 6 themed their assembly around loose parts and Tidy Up, and Mr and Mrs Berry were their guests of honour.

Education assistant Tamie Douglas said the loose parts play aligned nicely with the schools’ overall Nature Play policy, as it allowed children to think creatively, solve problems and use social cues to communicate with their peers, while using “junk”.

The Nature Play policy describes the play space rules in three main areas:

· are we looking after our environment;

· are we looking after the equipment; and

· are we making sure we are all having fun.

Mrs Douglas said children learnt very quickly that the items were not just junk or broken down household items- they were loose parts play treasures.

“They give new life to old bits and pieces,” she said.

“An old broken down vacuum cleaner suddenly becomes a rocket engine and they are on an important mission to space; an empty box has a myriad of uses and a piece of material can be used for a cubby roof, a superhero cape or anything else that comes into their imagination.”

Mrs Douglas said Tidy Up had donated many electronic devices including old laptops, keyboards and telephones, which had proven extremely popular with students.

“I saw a child using the telephone and keyboard in the middle of the playground the other day, in a very serious conversation with a pizza company as he ordered his pizza and the required toppings,” she said.

“Children are the masters of play and they come up with ideas and play initiatives that we, as adults, would never dream of.

“It is very exciting to watch.”

Mrs Douglas said the school was extremely grateful for the support from Tidy Up, which included donations of many items that could otherwise be on-sold.

“Tony and Jo are always saying that it is a win-win for both of us as we not only create amazing play opportunities, but it saves many items from ending up in landfill or in e-waste,” she said.