Resource Center

Learning with Loose Parts and Sensory Play

Our Smart Start team attended a training this past Saturday specifically focused on Infant and Toddlers! It was a very exciting training and we came back to Smart Start with many new skills and ideas to enhance the learning environment for our Infants and Toddlers.

One of the things we are very excited about is Loose Parts. We learned about schemas (A schema is a repeated pattern of behavior a child employs in order to explore and learn about his or her environment.) and how to employ different materials in our classrooms to help children use their natural schemas in a constructive way. By using everyday items (safe ones and once they have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized) we can help children learn about their environment and to develop skills needed later in life.

Loose Parts and Intelligent Playthings Characterized by Schemas by Michelle Thornhill is an excellent resource and goes a long way to explain the fundamentals of this teaching approach.

We are asking our parents to donate certain items to the center to further this initiative. Items such as:

Egg Cartons, Baking Molds, Kitchen Utensils, Textiles, Cardboard Tubes, Jar Lids, Velcro Rollers, Curtain Rings, Funnels, Brushes, Plastic Bottles w/ Lids, Cup Stands and Racks, Rope, Ribbon, Textiles, Sponges, Oatmeal Containers, Yogurt Containers, Plungers, Buckets, Wood, Bamboo, Guttering, Pots and Pans.

Exciting resources are available on Facebook to follow at Loose Parts.

We also learned a great deal about the importance of Sensory Play.

The Role of Sensory Play:

It's not just special needs children who have difficulty with sensory integration who can benefit from sensory play; it's all children. There are certain groups of children, such as those who have autism or those who have sensory integration dysfunction disorder who have specific difficulty making sense of and organizing all the stimuli that come at them via their senses. The truth is, all children need help learning how to use their senses.

From the very first day they are born, children are designed to explore the world via their senses. That's why babies and toddlers touch everything and put things in their mouths, and why kids make funny noises with their mouths and experiment with how the world sounds with their fingers stuck in their ears. It's why your child spins in circles until they're so dizzy, they fall, then get up and do it again.

We will be incorporating sensory play in all of our classrooms in the coming weeks. We will experience water, sand, chopped up corn cob, thickened baby shampoo, and all sorts of fun mediums that we can TOUCH. We will be playing games such as Smell Matching and Sounds Bingo that use our senses of SMELL and HEARING. We will be trying various picnic foods that we can explore with our TASTE and take in all of the various SIGHTS of our school day.

Please let us know when your child comes home excited about something they did or learned at school! Feedback from our parents helps us better plan our curriculum and activities!

Rhonda Kuykendall