A few weeks ago I was browsing at one of my favourite stores – Princess Auto – which carries a unique selection of surplus items. I don’t go there with anything particular in mind but rather I go to explore – to find interesting items that I can add as loose parts in the play room.
Certainly ‘surplus’ items could be construed as unpopular or ostracized but really it depends on how you look at them. I tend to peruse the aisles and examine the items that look interesting, unusual, or distinctive. I try to imagine what the children would do if they found this particular item. I don’t read the packages until after I have played with the item that way my investigation isn’t influenced by someone else’s interpretation of what the item is intended to be.
On my latest trip to explore I found these ‘twisty things’ – honestly I don’t remember what they were actually called but they were essentially foam wrapped wire meant to be use to gather cords and other loose items on a worksite. They came in various colors and sizes but I chose the smallest ones because there were four in the package and brown because it’s an earth tone and that’s always my preference.
So, what have the children been doing with these new items? Well, they’ve been used as drum sticks, magic wands, batons, and of course various weapons which are acceptable as long as they are not used to hurt others. They’ve been used as leashes, headbands, jewellery and other accessories during dramatic play activities.
I most enjoyed the creativity displayed when the twisty things were used as tools; extended drill bits in both the power and the hand drill, clamps, and interestingly, handles to gather together other loose parts (the manufacturers intended use).
The children have tried to build with them, weaving several of them together to make furniture such as a table, chair or bed – we would need many more twisty things for this to be a successful activity. Likewise, forming letters has also been popular but there are not enough to complete many words.
As with any loose parts in the hands of children these items are as limitless as their imaginations.