Play with loose parts has endured in my home because it keeps my daughter’s attention over time, while toys are quickly neglected. Additionally, I see a sense of pride in my daughter that I don’t see when she plays with toys.
When I started buying loose objects and introducing them to my daughter, she was immediately interested precisely because they were not toys. Sometimes the usage was not even immediately apparent. Sometimes she would ask, “How do I play with this?” This question would make me feel sad, feeling like my daughter had learned over time that she had to be told what to do with things, vice figuring it out by herself.
Fortunately, loose parts were exactly what she needed to develop her creativity and independence. She quickly realized that there was no prescribed way to play with anything, and positively responded to being the one to decide what an object should be or do. Without any prompting from me, she would return to loose parts day after day, using them to create something new.
We quickly started to have so many new creations which she would not want to take down. We soon decided on a “gallery” location, where creations can remain untouched for a period of time, and I also started taking pictures of her work to save them permanently. I never saw this type of pride when she would play with toys, partly because most toys she had were not designed for creation.