WinSport’s Early Explorers program – an early childhood development program for children ages three to five – builds the physical and cognitive development of children in an engaging indoor and outdoor environment. The idea to create the program was inspired from WinSport’s legacy, which was formed by relentless, bold, and fearless individuals. The organization’s goal is to continue that legacy by creating the next generation of leaders – children who will make an impact and continue to inspire their community. The outdoor play component of our ECD program is complimented by the newly designed calm and nurturing indoor learning space in the Markin MacPhail Centre. Below is an example of a day in the life of a student written by WinSport Early Childhood educator Brittany Caldwell on Loose Parts and Outdoor Play.
This semester at Early Explores the children have been engaged with our loose part’s materials. While sheltering from the cold and warming up our fingers we are often drawn to making various play items from our collection of found and natural materials. One Thursday, one little boy wandered over to the carpet to begin building. He sat down and using a clothes pin, a craft stick, and a small wooden ring, he built a toy airplane. Puttering the airplane around, he drew the attention of several of his classmates. As more children joined he shared with his friend how he had created his new toy and began teaching all the children to build little airplanes of their own. Soon after, a game of airplane racers had erupted and the children were zooming around the class wielding there new creations with beaming smiles.
Loose parts by definition are: open-ended materials designed to ignite creativity, ingenuity and collaboration in children. When contrasted with traditional toys, loose parts provide more opportunity for deeper learner and more creative play. In the example of the children and their toy airplanes, by providing them with simple materials versus plastic airplanes, we were able to expand the moment to include more skills and an opportunity to express their creativity. The children practiced fine motor skills while building – they used communication and collaboration skills to teach each other the best methods for building, and they expanded there understanding of shape, line, and size by replicating airplanes in model form.
This play is not limited to indoor moments. We also often use loose parts on both small and large scales when playing outside. We forge men/ action figures out of sticks; we construct life size forts from logs and stumps, and we use loose parts to conducts experiments on how to slide the fastest. Most importantly, we use the loose parts to ignite a love of learning that extends beyond the walls of a classroom and into the outdoor world.
WinSport’s Early Explorers program is holding an open house so parents and children can explore the learning space and ask questions to facilitators. It takes place on February 20. Click here to register.