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Tuesday 5 August 2014

Loose Parts Play - Jewellery

When I think back to the first activity I did with Wugs, it was an activity based on heuristic play (it was a "treasure basket"- a collection of everyday sensory items (safe for baby) that can be found around the house).  I've returned to that idea this week with our loose parts play.

My jewellery box is a highly sought-after item among my boys. It's kept inside my wardrobe at a height above Wugs' head, but every time I open that wardrobe, he stands on tiptoes and peers into the glass door, his eyes lighting up at all the sparkly colours.  At the weekend I sifted through the items that I was happy for him to play with and set up a loose parts jewellery play space. I used to make jewellery in a past life so I had a few additional accessories - like the tools and metal springs to make spiral bracelets and rings.

Whilst Dooey was sleeping (I have to wait for him to go down as the beads are a potential choking hazard), I presented Wugs with the play space. Immediately Teddy became part of the play and was offered beads to eat that Wugs had lovingly picked out for him and placed in the jewellery box. He was then adorned with bracelets and armlets on his feet, until Wugs removed them and told Teddy emphatically that "These are mine, not yours!" Finally he covered Teddy in bindis, which Teddy was allowed to keep.  One of Wugs' favourite parts of the play was the tools. He used them to bend and mould the pipe cleaners into different shapes. He counted beads and pointed out the colours and talked enthusiastically throughout his play.

For me, it reminded me of why I love heuristic play so much - our possessions say something about who we are, what we have done and where we have been. I saw Wugs handling earrings that I wore when my husband proposed to me in Bali. He put on a bracelet that I made as part of the wedding favours at my wedding - a bracelet that sat in a favour box that I had decorated with the bindis that he was sticking to his bear. The beads were loaded into a congkak board which we have because my husband is Malaysian and the congkak game is a traditional childhood game of Malaysia. There was a sense of my son "playing with history" and at the same time adding to the happy memories of the objects he was playing with.

What we used:
Hair bands
Metal springs
Crimpers and pliers
Wooden, jasper and mother of pearl and spacer beads
Jewelled box
Pipe cleaners (in case he wished to thread the wooden beads on to it)
For us, the loose parts play was centred around jewellery because it's an "everyday item" of our home - both for wearing and making, but this loose parts play could be adapted to any hobby where the materials are appropriate for a child to handle.

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