Constructive play without toys?

Open any toy catalogue or wander down the aisle in any toy shop, ( pre lockdown) browse to the section marked ‘construction’ & you’ll easily find a vast array of primary coloured resources.

Ticking a box and meeting an area of development & learning. Marked as construction toys or Constructive play.’ 

Hay presto children are developing expressive arts, creating, building & designing!?

Is this what Piaget had in mind when he said children engage in types of play that reflect their level of cognitive development:

First functional play then constructive play?

Constructive or construction play “teaches children to be flexible thinkers (Bruner 1972), and develops a sense of control and self-esteem by encouraging children to control their environment (Chaille 2008)” reference - Community Play things

But when did it become ‘normality’ to fill our settings, schools & Early Years centres with self limited resources?

Having to buy MORE & MORE plastic products to enable children to construct with fluidity ?

Constructive play cannot be defined by a chapter in a ‘resource catalogue’ because constructive play is open & unwritten.

It’s in the child’s imagination, own creativity & their minds eye.

Sadly however through the use of plastic toys we ARE restricting what children build & construct because these resource are ‘limited in their usage!

At The Curiosity Approach we look to step beyond traditional norms of Early Years & allow children to play without limitations.

To use their creativity, imagination & curiosity, through the use of Loose parts, opened resources, recycled materials & elements of nature.

Authentic play, sustainability & reigniting what has slowly diminished children’s natural unfolding & cognitive development through PLAY.

To see our children as ‘pilots in their own play’ who don’t need any more plastic invading their play spaces & stifling creativity.

Let’s re-construct a new way & new chapter. Let’s reset the button.

We enter a new year & look beyond lockdown, shall we reach for convenience & ease, tipping out those boxes of ‘construction toys’ or maybe join us & allow children the freedom to construct, create, imagine & play beyond limitation.

Save play, save our pockets & save our planet at the same time

Below are some ideas and images to help see an alternative way other than using commercialised plastic toys.


1. Using crates and piping, Go kart wheels . Contact a Go Kart centre and ask for donations. These are a great loose part that can be used as part as a child’s trajectory schema.

2. Guttering, pipes and bread crates. Allow children to join, combine, build and construct. Free to follow their own thoughts ideas and thinking.

Collect catering tins as a great loose part. To ensure all sharp edges are removed, use a quality electric tin opener.

Recycled materials, card board tubing. Ask at Carpet retailers or textile factories for the card board inners from carpet or fabric. Plastic guttering or tubing cut into shorter pieces make them easier to manage for little hands.

If you would like more inspirational ideas, have you joined The Curiosity Approach CRIB yet? Find the link attached below Join the Crib