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It's always playtime at Keith 'loose parts' nursery


By Lorna Thompson


A KEITH nursery's "odds and ends" approach is proving to offer a rich playground for its youngsters.

Little Explorers, based at Stagestars, has loosened up the definition of play with the opening of a "curiosity room" this August, during the nursery's second year.

The space is a treasure trove of "loose parts" – open-ended resources such as buttons, pine cones, wooden spoons, feathers, wood, plastic bottles, boxes, tubes, fabric, lids, cable reel, old carpet, mop-heads – all sorts of bits and bobs which allow the youngsters freedom to experiment, make their own discoveries and go where their curiosity takes them.

The loose parts philosophy, promoted by the Scottish Government, builds on time-worn traditions of using household items for play. There has been a burgeoning of loose parts play in schools and nurseries since 2016.

The Keith nursery previously ran loose parts days and has now built up enough varied stock of play materials to keep young imaginations fired up on a longer-term basis.

Amelia Blackhall (right) and Sonny Gordon (left) with nursery nurse Tracey Mathieson. Picture: Eric Cormack.
Amelia Blackhall (right) and Sonny Gordon (left) with nursery nurse Tracey Mathieson. Picture: Eric Cormack.
Amelia Blackhall finds a new use for an old record. Picture: Eric Cormack.
Amelia Blackhall finds a new use for an old record. Picture: Eric Cormack.
Noah Hendry and Katie Webster having fun. Picture: Eric Cormack.
Noah Hendry and Katie Webster having fun. Picture: Eric Cormack.

The nursery's Barbara O'Brien said: "We have shelves and shelves of stuff – and children can pick up what they want.

"We still have the usual toys like dinosaurs and cars – but loose parts allows more imaginative play."

She added that the children tend to play more calmly, while developing creativity and fine motor skills.

Barbara said there were extra safety considerations but that "if the play value outweighs the risk, that's fine". There are two staff to every 10 children. She added: "Children should have risk as long as they understand it."

Barbara said donations of useful household items were always welcome. The nursery has also signed up to DIY store B&Q's scheme to receive donations of old stock.

Little Explorers, which has some places available, runs on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.



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