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Loose Parts Fridays
Collective PLAY




During this period of closure for Collective and for schools, we're inviting you to join us from your living room, kitchen, garden or bedroom for a series of weekly loose parts play activities.

The term 'loose parts play' was coined by architect Simon Nicholson in 1971, and describes materials which can be moved, carried, manipulated, combined, lined up, stacked, knocked over, taken apart and put back together in multiple different ways. Loose parts play utilises these materials for free, open-ended, child-led play which builds confidence, supports creativity and encourages innovation and problem solving.

We encourage you to follow your child’s lead and support them to try out their own ideas using loose parts, but we’ll also be bringing you ‘Play Prompts‘ every Friday for the next 4 weeks.

WEEK 1: Loose Parts Toolkit
The first task is to put together your Loose Parts Toolkit, collecting objects from around your house and making them available for play. When gathering loose parts, try to choose around 8-12 objects with a range of properties which could have many different uses: the most creative play comes from choice and variety. Children will also enjoy being part of the selection process, treat this like a scavenger hunt for interesting textures, shapes, and colours.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Egg boxes
Plastic fruit and veg trays
Wooden spoon
Plastic bag
Wool or string
Old socks
Rubber gloves
Twigs and leaves

We’d love to see what loose parts you’ve found in your house, and what you’ve been making with them. Use #collectiveplay to share your loose parts photos and stories with us on our social media channels – each week we’ll be featuring some of our favourites.

WEEK 2: Isolation Instruments
This week we’re getting inspired by stories from around the world of people finding ways to connect while in isolation by sharing music and songs with their neighbours from balconies, windows and gardens.

Can you use your Loose Parts Toolkit to make an instrument, or an object for making sound? Could you create something to shake, bang, twang or pluck? How about inventing a way to make your voice or instrument louder? Try performing a concert for your neighbours from your window tonight.

We’d love to see your weird and wonderful noise-makers! Use the hashtag #collectiveplay to share your loose parts photos and stories – each week we’ll be featuring some of our favourites.

WEEK 3: Window on the World
You may have noticed lots of windows being decorated with rainbows in your area, helping to lift the spirits of passers-by. This week, we're asking you to use your window as a canvas.

Can you make a display or decoration for people walking by to see? Maybe you'll make a rainbow by painting or colouring some of your loose parts, create a display of some of the things you’ve been making, or perhaps start a game with your neighbours?

WEEK 4: The Perfect Park
While we're all staying indoors as much as possible at the moment, parks have become an important part of many people's daily exercise, but it can be difficult to play in and explore them in the same ways we used to.

This week, have a go at making your own perfect park in miniature! Maybe you're dreaming of a skate park with ramps, rails and ridges? Or perhaps you could use your loose parts to design the perfect playground with rope swings, see-saws and roundabouts?

WEEK 5: Dens

Are you getting fed up of looking at the same rooms in your house? This week we're asking you to use your loose parts to make a whole new space within a space. You might need to gather some additional loose parts for this: blankets, pillows and soft things will work well.

There are lots of different ways to build a den or fort, and we'd like to see how creative you can be! How many people can fit inside your den? Does it have a door? Or windows? Maybe it even has some furniture made from your loose parts inside?


For the next four Loose Parts Fridays, our Play Prompts will suggest a single object as a starting point for your child’s play. We recommend introducing the object alongside any craft materials you may have at home, then following your child’s lead and supporting them to try out their own ideas.

This week’s object is…a potato!

You can mash them, boil them, bake them or roast them to transform the humble potato into something wondrous and the same goes for using them for play. Will yours be carved, rolled, balanced, hollowed, dropped from a height or used to poke things into?


This week’s object is…an egg box!

These nobbly bobbly boxes make great objects for playing – they can be cut up into interesting shapes, torn into pieces, stacked up, doodled on, used as places to hide things, or to sort things.


This week’s object is… string!

Long and looping or tied tightly into knots, string or ribbon can be used in many different ways for play – it’s great for wrapping, dangling, swinging, tracing, tying, skipping, decorating and chopping.


This week’s object is…cupcake cases!

Crinkly, foldable, stackable, tearable - cupcake cases are versatile objects for loose parts play.

Week 10
For the next 4 weeks, Loose Parts Fridays will be focusing on sound and listening. Throughout lockdown, we've been working in partnership with young people from Edinburgh Young Carers and composer Richy Carey to produce a new radio play. These weekly activities draw upon ideas explored with the group, and can be enjoyed as a family or by children (or adults!) independently.

During the earlier phases of lockdown many people experienced quieter streets and neighbourhoods, appreciating sounds that they wouldn’t usually notice. Traffic and movement may have picked up again, but there are plenty of fascinating sounds out there if you can tune into them.

For this week’s activity, stop and pay attention to the sounds you can hear around you, either inside your home or outside. Try setting a timer, closing your eyes and doing nothing but listening for 5 minutes. What can you hear? Can you identify the sounds? Are there any you can’t identify?

Start a sound diary: this could be clips recorded on a mobile phone (Lexis Audio Editor is a useful free app), written descriptions, sketches or notations. We’ll be using the sound diaries for next week’s activity, so experiment with different ways of documenting sounds.

Week 11
This week, we’ll be using the sound diaries and recordings you produced to experiment with storytelling through photography. Imagine you’re hearing these sounds for the first time – what kind of places do they conjure up in your imagination? A sandy desert where you hear the whirling winds of a vacuum cleaner? Or how about a spooky forest with the repeated creaking of a floorboard?

Using any camera you have to hand (a camera phone will work), look for small spaces around your home and reimagine them as landscapes on another planet. Can you find a spot that looks like the place you’ve imagined? Try using a lego character or other small toy (or make your own!) to play with scale, and hold the camera really close. You might find that some spaces begin to look like the surface of another planet...

This week’s photos were taken by young people from Edinburgh Young Carers, working together with composer Richy Carey as part of Collective’s programme for young people.

Week 12
For this week’s activity, we’ll be using the close-up photos you took last week as inspiration for an imaginary planet.

Looking at your close-up photo of an 'alien landscape' within your home, can you describe what the LEGO person is seeing, but without using any of the names of the things in the picture?

Imagine you were them, having just appeared in the world in that photograph. What do you see? What are the shapes and colours and textures in front of you? How would you describe it to someone to someone who can’t see it?

Make a recording, using the free Lexis Audio app, of you describing the landscape of your planet. You might even choose to get creative and make a 3D set of your planet using art materials and objects from around your house!

This week’s photos were taken by young people from Edinburgh Young Carers working together with composer Richy Carey as part of Collective’s programme for young people.

Week 13

This week we’ll be thinking about storytelling, using the planetary landscape you made last week. If you haven’t made one yet, don’t worry! The instructions for previous activities are all on available above.

After thinking about what your planet looks, feels, smells and sounds like last week, what kind of story could you tell based on your planet? One way to start is by making up some characters – are they aliens? People like us? Other beings that we’ve never seen before? Do they have names? What do they like? What don’t they like? How do they behave?

Maybe you’re feeling inspired to write down a story using your characters, or you could try making a visual storyboard instead. Sketch out some ideas for a beginning, middle and end – you can even cut them out and shuffle them around to mix up the story!

This week’s images were made by young people from Edinburgh Young Carers working together with composer Richy Carey as part of Collective’s programme for young people.

Join us next week for the next Loose Parts Friday activity, and share your photos using the hashtag #collectiveplay