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Date: April 22, 2020

Transient Art and Loose Parts Play

Why is Transient Art & Creativity Important?

Transient Art and Creative opportunities will give children a sense of control over their surroundings and a feeling of satisfaction and are, therefore, extremely important for their wellbeing at this unsettling time. Alongside this, creative opportunities are valuable because they support children’s thinking skills, encouraging them to express their ideas, solve problems and plan out their thoughts and actions.

Transient Art or Loose Parts Play

Transient art or loose parts play is the creative experience of placing open- ended resources together on a surface. As part of transient art or loose parts play children will explore shape, space, pattern, positioning, colour, texture and overlapping. What is crucial here is that the materials are not fixed onto a surface with glue or tape but can be moved and placed in different positions to fit children’s changing creative ideas. The bonus here, from a practical point of view, is that this means that the resources you use for transient art or loose parts play can be reused. If the resources are open-ended enough, the children will be able to explore a multitude of creative possibilities with the same collection of resources by combining them in different ways.

Complete Transient Art Area 3-4yrs

Early Excellence Complete Transient Art Area 3-4yrs


So, what will you need?

Well, there’s no right or wrong as to what should be provided. A good starting point is to ask your children to help you gather together interesting materials from around the house and garden. Try to collect a variety of shapes, sizes and different materials. Interesting materials to get you started might include:

  • Natural materials such as leaves, sticks or seeds
  • Metal materials such as nuts, bolts, screws, washers
  • Recycled materials such as milk bottle tops, cardboard tubing, jar lids and corks
  • Pieces of string, elastic bands, hair bobbles
  • Items of clothing such as t shirts, socks, gloves

Additional Materials

Once you’ve gathered some materials together, you’ll need to choose what you’re going to place them on. A bed sheet or large towel would work really well. You could experiment with different coloured backgrounds. Your loose parts resources will usually stand out best on a contrasting background so white or black material tends to work well but you could try different colours and patterns too.

Expressing Creative Ideas

When you’re all set, talk about the different ways that you can place the materials onto your background. It’s best not to expect children to create a recognisable picture or scene but instead to help them to use the materials to explore overlapping, contrasting colours and textures and shape. Some children will want to use the materials to create a picture of something or a place that’s familiar, others will be more interested in exploring how the materials can be placed together. This form of creative play is great for exploring mathematical possibilities such as shape and pattern and it also provides rich opportunities for supporting language development. Positional words such as on, under, next to can be used in a meaningful way here alongside words to describe shape, colour and texture.

Reflections and Shadows

The addition of a light source such as a desk lamp will provide the opportunity to look more closely at some of your smaller objects and will also give you the chance to explore the different shadows that are cast by your objects. In a similar way, a mirror carefully positioned next to your artwork will give the opportunity to explore how your patterns and shapes are reflected. Children are naturally interested in mirrors and reflections; this will lead to lots of exploration and will provoke curiosity and questioning too.

Over to You

So, it’s over to you, share this post directly with the parents of children in your class or magpie some of the ideas to share with your children and parents in the coming weeks. Either way, let us know how your children get on with their creative explorations. Your parents and children can share their creations with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram- it would be great to see how creative they can be with the everyday items around the house!

If you are looking to plan your areas of provision, order our GUIDE TO CONTINUOUS PROVISION today.

This fully illustrated guide with planning documents includes:

  • A three-part illustrated overview of what, why and how
  • A useful set of discussion points to support the review of current provision
  • A full set of Continuous Provision Plans, one for each area
  • Guidance on how to use the plans with your team
  • Blank formats to help you create your own plans

Or, if you’re an EYFS or Key Stage One Teacher, maybe this has got you thinking about how you can incorporate a transient art area into your continuous provision for when school reopens. Let us know how you get on! Email any images to marketing@earlyexcellence.com or tag @earlyexcellence on social media.