Loose parts are perfect for play

Loose parts are perfect for play

Aspiri Primary School principal Noel Morgan with Jandakot MP Yaz Mubarakai with students at the school’s loose parts play area. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

At Aspiri Primary School in Piara Waters, children spend lunch breaks playing with old vacuum cleaners, tyres and milk crates but not because of a lack of funds.

In fact, the school recently had a $20,000 playground installed.

Yet while many of the school’s 150 kindergarten and pre-primary age children play on their new swing set, the area of the playground which attracts the most attention is filled with old household and workplace scraps.

Speaking at a meeting with Member for Jandakot Yaz Mubarakai to commemorate the school completing its first term, education assistant Tamie Douglas said the idea to introduce scrap as toys was eagerly adopted by students.

“It’s something that’s been around for a while – loose parts play – and we’re using real items to create play opportunities,” she said.

“It ticks all the boxes for creativity, problem solving, socialisation – things that kids need to build on.”

“It’s also cheap, which is great for the bottom line of schools.”

Loose parts play arose in the 1970s, and encourages children to use their imaginations to create toys and games out of common items instead of using purpose-made toys.

At Aspiri Primary School children play with items including tyres, hose, tools, computer parts, phones and kitchenware.

The school’s only requirement is that the items are safe, clean and recyclable and Ms Douglas claimed the students were being pushed to challenge themselves.

“Give them a couple of weeks and they become very creative,” she said.

“All of a sudden a vacuum cleaner isn’t a vacuum cleaner, it’s a space pack on their back.”

She called using old goods as toys “acceptable risk taking”.

“You’ve got to let them take a few risks – we’re not saying broken necks but here if they fall they usually give it a rub and they’re off playing again,” she said.

“They’re too busy to worry about that.”

The program also helps keep electrical waste from landfill and principal Noel Morgan said he hoped it would continue.

“I’ve been in the system for 40 years now and this is the first time I’ve seen this,” he said.

“It’s a low-cost or no-cost option.

“Once the kids are sick of it, we’ll recycle it and get new stuff in.”