Engineering creativity: Celebrating loose parts play for all ages

By Robin Christie



National Quality Standard
QA1Educational program and practice
QA3Physical environment
Australian Professional Standards for Teachers
3Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning
6Engage in professional learning


Robin Christie
Robin Christie is an experienced early childhood teacher and art school dropout, which turned out to be a pretty good combination for his current role as a designer of functional, beautiful and empowering learning spaces for young children. Robin is passionate about creativity in the early years, the importance of positive, risk-taking play and encouraging more men to become early childhood educators.


Engineering creativity in loose parts play’ involves open-ended and easily manipulated materials that children can use to construct, deconstruct and transport, both to support them in developing working theories of the physical world and to augment their social and imaginative play.

Since Simon Nicholson first formally described this natural aspect of children’s play in 1971, understandings of loose parts play have widened and diversified. In contemporary research, it is considered to be completely without boundaries and mix easily with other kinds of learning.

This webcast will examine many practical examples of loose parts play using materials that are recovered, upcycled or drawn from nature. These include opportunities for loose parts play in infant and toddler spaces and in symbolic and imaginative play.

Special emphasis will be placed on provisions that are environmentally responsible, encourage co-operation and problem-solving, and are cheap as chips!


Learning outcomes:

  • Consider the notion of loose parts play.
  • Examine practical instances of loose parts play.
  • Consider loose parts play with young infants through to school-age children.
  • View both Australian and international perspectives and practical implementation of loose parts play.


Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes