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What We Do
Play on Wheels 2013-2016 is about working in partnership with communities to increase children’s access to high quality play by putting play knowledge into practice and building on community strengths and assets. We do this by working with children, adults and practitioners to decide how developing their play resources and environment can support them to improve their lives. Free, self-directed play with loose parts is a key part of our approach since it strengthens children’s confidence in taking their own decisions and managing risk which builds resilience and improves well-being.
Why loose parts, free play?
The more flexible and varied a child’s environment is, the more opportunities they have for creating, inventing and pursuing their own curiosity and interests through play. The benefits of movable loose parts were highlighted by landscape architect Simon Nicholson (1971): “In any environment, the degree of creativity and inventiveness is directly proportional to the number of variables in it”. Read our Loose Parts Play Information Sheet.
Professor Fraser Brown explores this notion further in his theory of Compound Flexibility (2003). The more flexible and varied play environments are the more flexibility this encourages in children, which creates a positive cycle of innovation and creativity. To be able to use varied resources in new ways, children need to be able to feel in control of their play. Click here for further information.
Varied play resources
Our play leaders have a range of play approaches to support understanding of play and to develop play resources. We work with communities to identify overlooked or underused places, spaces and even people in order to develop play. Simple everyday materials are key to our approach. We might explore sensory or messy play with water, bubbles, paint, clay or playdough. We also use treasure baskets, bags and boxes (loose parts play) for babies and young children, and can support families and practitioners to play with songs, stories and rhymes, rhythm and music, making use of recycled materials and everyday objects. We use larger loose parts material such as tyres, crates, planks, guttering and rope to support outdoor play and to respond to the elements (wind, rain snow and ice).
We hold open play sessions (normally during the holidays) in streets, parks, green spaces and community centres to encourage local families to explore free play and to connect with local services and resources. These are all advertised on our Facebook pages.