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  • Writer's pictureVicki Manning

How to collect loose parts at home

We love loose parts play here at Howweplayandlearn HQ - not only is it really fun, but there are loads of benefits to it. And the great thing is, you don't have to spend a fortune as there are so many everyday objects that can be repurposed for play.

What are loose parts?

Have you experienced the wonders of assembling flat pack furniture with a toddler? How they make a beeline for the nuts and bolts and want to play with them? That's the appeal of loose parts - objects that are everyday but not normally played with or thought of as 'toys'.

Loose parts encourage children to be creative and use their imaginations!

red, blue, green and white milk lids

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Using household objects as loose parts

Your home is a great place to start when looking for loose parts - you will easily build up a selection of objects your child will enjoy tinkering with just by having a quick look around.

Look for objects that are clean and free from sharp edges. Have a think about any recycling before it goes in the bin - can you set it aside for a bit of play? And take a look in those drawers of old bits and bobs - long forgotten keys, elastic bands, paperclips - they are all perfect for loose parts play.

When you find an object, ask yourself whether it can be used in lots of different ways, is it safe to use, and will it inspire creativity or imagination.

loose parts, tray of wooden beads

Some of our favourite household objects for loose parts play

  • Buttons

  • Beads

  • Cardboard tubes

  • Pegs

  • Brushes

  • Dried beans

  • Ribbons

  • Nuts & bolts

  • Lids

  • Cotton buds

  • Bangles

  • Dice

  • Corks

loose parts play, bowl of dice

How to store loose parts

I've found the easiest way to store loose parts so that you can access them quickly and easily is to use a large Really Useful Box, then put each type into a separate Ziploc bag. This way you can easily rotate the loose parts, it also makes things a lot easier once it comes to tidying up.

Want some inspiration on how to play with your new collection? Check out our loose parts posts or maybe try a book or two:

Loose parts - inspiring play in young children by Lisa Daly & Miriam Beloglovsky

Loose parts play - a beginners guide by Martin Williams & Debby Stevens

A final word on safety

Loose parts play can involve a certain amount of risk for younger children, especially those that are still putting things in their mouths, so make sure you supervise them closely. If you are nervous about introducing loose parts, start with larger objects such as lids and bangles.

I taught my toddlers not to put things in their mouths by making a face and a yuck sound whenever they try it, and they have all played confidently with loose parts from the age of 2, it's now an everyday part of our play!

Let me know if you try loose parts play and how you get on!

Check out my ultimate loose parts checklists, available in the How We Play and Learn Etsy shop for more ideas.


Playdough - the ultimate guide


Hi, I'm Vicki!

I'm an author and mum to three energetic boys who love learning in a playful and creative way! For more playful learning, creative inspiration and crafts, visit us at:



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