Children are curious, capable, unique individuals who inherently are born to explore, invent, take apart, put together and rearrange whatever materials they have within their reach.
“Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes and their ears, the resources of forms, materials, sounds and colours.”
– Loris Malaguzzi
As educators, we hold the responsibility to provide thoughtful, open ended materials to support, foster, and encourage this enthusiasm.
By providing beautiful materials we are encouraging children to explore and create in an environment with unlimited opportunities.
As educators, we have built our own knowledge of materials and the world around us. The children we learn alongside each day are making sense and creating their knowledge of the world.
It is our responsibility to expose, provoke and empower children
to form or expand knowledge of materials, in their own way. By offering loose parts in different combinations we are supporting children to make sense of the world around them.
“Children require long, uninterrupted periods of play and exploration.”
While we may expect children will respond one way to a group of materials, we need to be welcoming and flexible of how children engage with the provocation.
As with any new materials introduced to young children it is important to be aware of the potential risks. Working alongside children as they discover these new materials is an important role of the educator. When working with infants and toddlers and children who are known to put materials in their mouths it is imperative that only items large enough to not pose a choking hazard are offered.
When children are given opportunities to fully engage with materials; they are able to experiment and understand their function, ability and capacities. By providing unstructured time with open ended loose parts we are setting the stage for children to explore and make sense of materials through hands-on learning.
When children are provided materials in tinker trays it shows the importance of the materials and helps keep items organized. It is important to allow children large amounts of unstructured time to explore, invent and experiment with tinker trays and their contents.
By introducing interesting materials in such a way, children are able to foster independence, creativity and develop problem solving skills.