This week we have been lucky enough to review a loose part crate from Crate Wonder. I found Crate Wonder on Facebook, I loved the crates they sell and their philosophies are in line with my own philosophies of play. Owners Kelly and Bianca work in childcare and are passionate about heuristic and open ended play and it shows through the items that they have selected for their loose part boxes.
‘Architect Simon Nicholson used the term “loose parts” to describe materials with varied properties that can be moved and manipulated in many ways. He theorized that the richness of an environment depends on the opportunity it allows for people to interact with it and make connections. Early childhood educators have found this to be true and have documented the vast learning that can occur when children are able to invent, create, explore, and rearrange loose parts’
Many people still think that open ended play, loose parts play is only intended for times when children are in Kindergarten or at Daycare, but the fact is loose parts can be found and used anywhere. I find that my children play with loose parts for longer and over more days than they would just a regular fast food style toy, that usually ends up dumped in a toy box that is usually tipped out on the floor of my child’s bedroom when they rummage through to find something and it’s never, ever used.
Our Crate Wonder consisted of a number of wooden, metal, plastic and natural items. When I first introduced the kit to Frankie (as Alex was at Kindergarten) I only set out a few items. I didn’t want her to feel overwhelmed by having everything out at once. I had the wooden cup holder set up and the wooden and metal rings placed to the side, along with the napkin rings. Interestingly I thought she would have made a bee line for the rings and place them on the cup holder, however she didn’t, She lined up the napkin rings and then placed the wooden rings over top. This has been a reoccurring theme when she uses the loose parts. Lining up and stacking.
Over time she has decided to hang items on the cup holder. Firstly she will place the metal rings, then the wooden rings and then she hung the plastic chains. She did try and place the chain loops onto the cup pegs but they did not fit. This could have become frustrating for her, but she found other ways to hang them on the pegs and display them on the bottom of the cup holder.
Alex has spent a lot of the time incorporating the parts into his pretend play. He is at a very creative stage and builds items he needs from all sort of loose parts. The chains were used to make foot ascenders that arborist would use to climb trees. They were also incorporated into games where they could be used as handcuffs. He would also use the items with many of our own loose parts including selotape and string.
For Fathers Day the whole loose parts set was used to create decorations for dads present. This was an ongoing decoration that has stayed together and been dismantled and remade over two days.
Crate Wonder has a number of kits and individual items ranging from $3.00 items through to resource kits at $120.00, which I think is very reasonable. I love that it is a one stop shop for busy working parents or childcare centres who don’t have time to hunt out indivual items in shops or online.
What I love so much about Crate Wonder is that the sets are so well thought out. Having used a number of bought Heuristic Play sets with my children, I found that this set could easily grow with my children’s development and imagination. Both Alex and Frankie have had a lot of fun using the set over the past week, both using the items but exploring and building in their own way.
The most used item in our home would be the wooden cup holder, which has been used as a decoration tree and included in all constructions and play.
Happy Building and Creating.
Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere. Albert Einstein.