A while ago I was inspired by a post on Instagram from Jess at Tinker Tots where she shared her little box of loose parts that she takes along in her purse for her son. It took a while but I finally put together our own little container of take along loose parts and it’s debut with my boys was a huge success.
I discovered a small cardboard shipping tube that I’d been saving for a long time and knew it was the perfect size and it could also be used as a loose part, itself. I walked around the house grabbing random items to fill it; a ribbon from an unwrapped birthday gift, the ladder from a broken fire truck, coffee stirrers and more. The only things I sought out were the two vehicles, a motorcycle and a helicopter.
After we ordered our food, I told the boys I’d brought something for them to play with and they were instantly curious. I put the tube on the table and they did not stop twisting, tying, stacking, creating or imagining until the pancakes arrived at the table and we had to quickly stuff everything back in it’s holder.
I’m excited to keep this tool in my bag going forward. This isn’t simply about something to keep them occupied or out of trouble but rather the ability to provide them with open ended materials that encourage creativity, conversation, storytelling, and more while we are on the go and in any situation.
I plan on adding and taking away materials as needed based on how they engage each time we take them out.
This year was our first 100 days of school project for my son who is in first grade. The assignment was pretty open ended, which I was SO excited about. All we had to do was gather 100 pieces of a particular item and arrange them in a way that could be hung on the wall.
My son did not really have any ideas right off the top of his head so I suggested using some of our enormous bottle cap collection. (A while ago, a local girl scout troop collected bottle caps for me for a presentation I was doing. They collected hundreds, probably thousands, so we have what feels like an endless supply).
We pulled out the big box of bottle caps and started sorting through them to see what colors we could use. I suggested we use 10 different colors and have 10 of each color and he agreed.
So, we did the best we could to find the colors of the rainbow but there were just not enough pink and purple. We ended up finishing the collection with black, white, silver and gold.
My son arranged all the caps on the board, which was actually the back of a picture frame that I had saved from another project. (I had used the frame to make a twine and clothespin photo display).
After he was done organizing, I hot glued them. Typically he would have helped me with the glue gun but we’d been working on this for a long time and he was bottle capped out. I couldn’t risk the board being bumped into and his design being tossed about, so I did the glueing myself. (I always swore I’d never do my kids school projects for them but I rationalized my doing the glueing with the fact that he had really done most of the work and it was his own design, I just made it permanent.)
He was so proud of the final result and could not wait to bring it into school. I am hoping that they get returned later in the year because it’s so beautiful and I would definitely hang in their bedroom or in our office.