Open-ended materials (also called loose parts) are materials that can be used in numerous ways indoors and outdoors by babies, toddlers and young children. They can be moved, carried, combined, and redesigned in any way the child decides. These materials can be natural or manufactured and can be sourced in several ways:
- in nature – simply by going to woods, beaches and gardens
- asking parents to bring in materials from home
- by recycling in the setting
- by joining a recycling centre where businesses bring end-of-use or by-products.
Check out the Aistear Síolta Practice Guide for more information on why open-ended materials are important to children’s learning and development, the practitioner’s role and suggested materials that you might like to introduce to the learning environment.
To learn more about open-ended materials a member of the Better Start Quality Development team is also available to your setting, simply send a Quality Query to email@example.com, include your settings DCYA number in the subject line and an Early Years Specialist will contact you to provide additional information, advice and mentoring.