Sharing is Caring

Sharing my teaching journey, reviewing books, looking for mathematical inspiration and always wondering what the next steps will be.

Loose Parts / Bric-à-brac

Do you love knick knacks and doodads? Are you obsessed with cute little things that might be useful sometime somewhere? Do you like natural materials (wood, straw, smooth stones, etc)? I’m not talking about hoarding. No sirree. No way, not me, not ever, especially not as revealed by this blog post. This ‘bric-à-brac’ has to be organized by category in glass jars or other clear containers (preferably labelled although I’m not quite there yet), and it has to be obvious how to put away the materials when you have finished using them (or if you find a stray piece on the floor).

I’m talking about Loose Parts. This form of storytelling has been popular for a while now, but I am just starting to use this strategy in my classroom. Here are a few things you should know. First, here is the introductory PowerPoint (see below) I used to establish how the materials should be used. Second, our awesome new French Immersion District Consultant, Carrie Bourne, joined the class to answer any and all questions from the students that I was not sure how to answer. She also brought two giant Rubbermaid-type bins of loose parts (got to get me some moss) for the students to use. Third, she and I met at lunch before the session to talk about the question that we would pose. I noticed in our conversation that I wanted to narrow the focus a lot whereas she was encouraging more open ended questions that would relate to the students’ personal experience.


So how did it go? First, kudos to the awesome group of students who were willing to take part in this storytelling. Un grand merci! Vous êtes fantastiques! The room was buzzing, kids were focussed and very on task. No one was exhibiting (extreme) avoidance behaviours although for some it was difficult to come up with a story initially. Still, using the loose parts to act out the story was a non-threatening way to activate thinking and sequence the events. And the chance to see others working out their story was a Vygotskian moment, in my opinion. In other words, what a good way to prevent writer’s block. The final product, the written stories, were greatly appreciated during the end of day read aloud.


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