When a customer called me yesterday from an infant school asking for relevant fabric for loose parts play, I have to say I was baffled. Loose parts play is not a phrase I’m familiar with, but when it was kindly explained, it all became clear. And very familiar.
In Touch With Reality
Loose parts play is a contemporary movement for children’s play that incorporates an age old truth. Children have incredible imaginations. They can and will incorporate anything that fascinates them into playtime. This is basically how I played growing up, its how all children played (back then). Yes I had toys, but I would involve all sorts of items I found around me when making up stories and scenarios.
The teacher needed many , many different samples of fabric with all sorts of different textures to cut up and include in small loose parts play and some larger weatherproof pieces for outside play. I explained we have thousands of fabrics and I would send lots of links to her for the most interesting and tactile options. She could then order lots of 50p samples and as out our sample are quite large at an average 5 to 9 inches square (or rectangle!) they could be cut up and shared among the children.
I wasn’t aware that there was an actual teaching method or movement to get children more interested in the physical world around them. I’ts good to know there is. With the lure of the screen taking over from such a young age, this teaching methodology is essential for stepping into the “real world”. The teaching of loose parts play has proven to ignite a creative spark even in children who were reluctant to get involved, at first. I’m glad to know there are are still kids who are still into everything around them, not just on a screen in front of them.
The teacher explained that in addition to the multitude of items used for loose parts play she needed “interesting fabric”. “So you mean unusual and tactile fabric” I said and began to describe the wealth of verities we have here at at Fabric UK. This was exactly what she needed. The fabric that initially triggered her interest for including it in loose parts play was Laminated Hessian, which she came across for another purpose. She quickly realised that a mixture of pieces of fabric with vastly varied textures would be a valuable addition to Loose Parts Play.
Learning Through Touch
Using fabric and materials to aid the integration of small children is a great way to ease the way into a world that probably seems quite scary at times. Imaging the constant shock and surprise of everything you touch around you! Teaching babies and toddlers the vast differences of the physical world helps them grow into their surrounding comfortably. It links the physical feeling to the questioning and creative part of the brain as they work out answers for themselves.
This need to work out what something is, how it works, and why it feels that way keeps going through through early toddler years, infant school to primary and on and on….
Keep Feeling Fascination
Fascination in unusual textures isn’t just a childhood throwback. For the average human, It is true that as we get older, the more that we learn, less is new to us. We absorb everything around us at a phenomenal rate and quickly become used to new textures and experiences. This is because we become used to the rate of change around us. For the creative mind though, the curiosity we have of the physical world around us keeps running full steam.
The inquisitive minds use the imagination they honed since childhood to to create new fabric through technology or ancient technique. The creative minds then use the fabric in incredible and imaginative ways for fashion, artwork, interior design and visual merchandising. Proving how integral it is to keep the spark of fascination alive throughout our whole life.
Its the desire to research, experiment, create and produce that keeps new things happening!