Daniel Mack   Loose Parts


Loose Parts

"The mind of a child is a fire to be kindled,

not a vessel to be filled."          Plato



Loose Parts NatureTime   90 min    K-2nd graders         March 9, 2019

For Simple Activities on Snowy Hill:   Offer some quiet, active, cooperative opportunities


 “Loose Parts” is about Sharing experience, not controlling it,

It is not an Art Class. No techniques or skills are being taught. Not clear Outcomes.

It allows for Discovery! And changes of plans.  It allows various Needs to arise:                           

Time for quiet awe/wonder, Time for Active Energized Engagement (Feral),

Time for Making, Time for Stories/Sharing


Just Trust The Hunt of the Moment AND a few Loose Parts

30 Birch Bark Bracelets  put name and “Nature Name” 

12 Glass Jars for hunting/collecting

2 Tarps for making Sails, ground cover                                                              

20 Tree Cookies  in Bags that can be used as snow slides                                   Bag of Yarns                                                                                                       

Roll of Butcher Paper for Group Mural with mud,

Cardboard/Feed Bags to sled on snow with…                             


15 Minutes                                                                                            Introductions to Loose Parts approach

Ask each child about a favorite experience in Nature,

Why they like Nature Play

Ask about a range of Activities: Movement: Run, Blow Around, Dance, Yell

Give out Birch Bark Bracelets  have them write Names on them…


25 Minutes

GO Outside, Explore Elements:  ID Folo Tracks/Scat  

Hunt nature materials with Empty Jar/BK cup

Show/Tell a Story about what you found, why it interested you


40 Minutes

Choose What to Do Next: Just Play! Loose Parts Activities with

Make up Games with the 20 Tree Cookies,

Tie Ropes to the Tarps and Catch The Wind

Unravel Yarns in the Snow

Make Paths in the Snow, Snow Angels, Snow Huts

Object Making  Birch Bracelets, Yarn/Stick Wands, People to take home

Group Project: on Butcher Paper with Mud, Snow, Markers

Report from Teacher:

The first class was 8 boys and 1 girl. The boys were very energetic and not really "good listeners". not interested in the observations or collecting items, though they did find some icicles that they found interesting. The boys really liked that they could walk on a patch of ice and splash in the mud. They kept asking, "Am I allowed to..." and I responded they can do anything that is safe to themselves and respectful of our place. They liked the freedom to be off the path. Tree cookies weren't very interesting to them. They enjoyed throwing snowballs in the frozen pond. Mainly, they wanted to wrestle in the snow and put snow down each other's jackets. 

The second class was 4 girls. They were very interested in collecting and stopped frequently. Many discussions around wildlife we saw, birds of prey, deer, etc. When we reached our hike destination they liked telling stories about the objects they found. There were some things they didn't know what they were, so lively discussion followed. The girls really liked throwing snow in the frozen pond. Tree cookies weren't very interesting to them. One girl built a tower from the cookies and hit it with snowballs. They liked to push and drag each other in the snow. We did birch bracelets inside with markers and that was a big hit. 



Thursday, May 11, from 2-4 pm

Playtime at Dan's Warwick Studio/Property

... for all ages  $50 per Parent/Child or a Playful Lone Adult


The Concept

Loose Parts is the opportunity to construct and direct your own activities from the many materials, tools and environments Dan offers:

Making Areas: work benches--appropriately sized-- with access to tools and supplies... for drilling, cutting, gluing, pounding, carving, grinding, sanding, Dremelling to

Make Stools, Benches, Sculptures, Troll/Fairy Houses. Small Bark Creatures; draw with mud and make squishy mache animals; stones for stacking and shovels ready for digging holes.

Exploring: on the property there are things to see and find: piles of stone, shells, animal dens, tracks, nests, buried objects and dangling wands. If you like casual wandering, seeing and discovering, this is it.  “Did You Find…”

Secret Hiding in forsythia bushes There are piles of sticks to build new hiding places and Big Nests.

Quiet Time: There are hammocks, chairs and lots of dreamy things to look at in the Studio. There's a collection of books for all ages and Snacks.
Rhythm Time: Lots of musical instruments.
Take your projects home to finish with a 8-page booklet on how to do more of this wherever you are.



  • WE MUST!  For our health: The opposite of play is not work, it's depression
  • To Remember our shared 90,000 year experience as Hunters and Gatherers
  • To Encounter other living beings: trees, birds, waters, plants, people
  • To Experience the not-work, not-sports, not-chores model of spending time
  • To Enjoy NOVELTY, exuberance, Discovery, Surprise, finding the unexpected
  • To Get in The Zone, Drug-Free ASC


We are using natural materials as a portal into a pre-conscious state of mind where we then "say" something. As yoga teacher, Patty, puts it: "Express and Release"  and friend Judd, the fishing guide, puts it: "Catch and Release".

We are not making "art" but looking to catch and express and release something.  We are looking for materials from the natural world to help us say something about the interior world, something about the very current state of nature and your human nature:

NaturePlay is like being in a pool. This is not a lap pool, or an Olympic pool; Actually, it's a swamp.  It requires patience with your self, with all your voices.  It may require a accidental or coincidental contact with someone, some place, some thing... that scratches you into a new awareness... We are looking for portals that are never in the same place.  Alertness is your ally.

WHEN?    Play every day!

Just a walk allows you practice being alert, Curious, Mindful... the Hunter! not the Warrior

There’s not a set agenda. It’s about discovery, accident, coincidence. There are several areas for activity: Three particular ones:

Brush piles to cut materials for fanciful small woodland structures (troll/fairy houses);
Opportunity to try “shadow drawing” ... pencil drawing of a branch’s shadow as it slightly shifts in the moving sun;

Branches and materials for Woodland Tools... newly found objects bound together to create something more than the sum of their parts... that’s sculpture? a wand? I’ll have bases to mount them on.   So that’s the plan.

This approach is inspired by Magda Gerber's RIE, Resources for Infant Educarers, and her elaborator, Janet Lansbury.

RIE is dedicated to allowing the child to initiate and direct the discovery and play.