So you haven’t been to the dump yet…

FANTASTIC!! Before you do get around to the dump trip, let’s just have a look through the pile to see what amazing play and healthy development opportunities might be in there for your children (grandkids, neighbours etc).

If you find these things in your dump pile, pull them out now:

  • pallets
  • cable reels (all sizes)
  • cardboard
  • tyres
  • inner tubes
  • scraps of metal
  • material
  • buckets
  • witches hats
  • barrels
  • old furniture.

“Hang on a minute, we just finished clearing this stuff out! Why are we taking it out of the dump pile?”

Because all of the items listed above provide endless opportunities for unstructured, child led, meaningful play for children. These items, often referred to as loose parts, don’t have a specific purpose and can be moved, combined, taken apart and redesigned, giving children a chance to do the thinking and be creative rather than just trying to achieve a predetermined outcome.

Children who have lots of unstructured time to play with loose parts are more likely to:

  • be playful and have fun
  • socialise, consider others and show empathy
  • think outside the box
  • solve their own problems and ask for help
  • discover, practice and master new skills
  • create and innovate
  • be flexible and adaptable
  • communicate and negotiate
  • stick with something until it’s finished
  • be self directed and self regulate
  • develop their imagination.

Play is an immensely powerful tool to support healthy development and reduce stress. So now amidst Covid19 restrictions, uncertainty and change, our children need to play more than ever before. With playgrounds closed and our access to outdoor spaces restricted we need to think of different ways to play. That’s why I thought I’d write about loose parts play now…it is easy, affordable/free and it is fun!

Loose parts play can be messy and sometimes it is not all that appealing to look at BUT the value it holds for children is undeniable. So I encourage you to:

  • find a space that is ‘dedicated’ to loose parts play. It doesn’t have to be big & it can even be indoors but it shouldn’t need to be cleaned up too often
  • find some stuff. For more ideas look at our loose parts checklist in the free resources section of our website
  • allow your child/ren plenty of time to play…let them come up with the ideas and direct what happens
  • take an interest in what they build and play…you will be amazed!

If you would like to know more about loose parts play at home or in schools/kindys/childcare, please get in touch Also check out our holiday programs and after dark programs which are all about getting children outside and playing with loose parts (& will be starting again as soon as we can do safely following Covid19).


Written by: Madeline Avci, Director Jump Up for Kids May 2020

Madeline Avci is the Director of Jump Up For Kids and is a huge advocate of children balancing their time in front of screens with time playing outside where they ignite all of their senses. At work and through her own children, she sees the joy in children’s eyes as they rise up to meet the challenges that nature provides. Jump Up For Kids brings together over twenty years of Madeline’s experience in Occupational Therapy, teaching and parenting, to offer children and their families a ‘just right’ experience in a world that often feels hurried and stressed.

Jump Up For Kids combines expert knowledge of the demands of the modern world, the education system and child development to provide a service that advocates and promotes a common sense approach to raising children in the modern world.

Jump Up For Kids Occupational Therapists work alongside children, families, educators and industry leaders to help develop and promote the independence and resilience children and young people need to do the things they need to do each day and the things they want to do. Jump Up For Kids strives to maintain outstanding levels of service for our clients and strives to place itself at the forefront of Child Development within the Health, Education and Community Development industries.

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