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Let the Children Play: Scoping Review on the Implementation and Use of Loose Parts for Promoting Physical Activity Participation

1 School of Health and Human Performance, Dalhousie University, 6230 South Street, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada
2 Department of Child and Youth Study, Mount Saint Vincent University, 166 Bedford Highway, Halifax, NS B3M 2J6, Canada
3 Healthy Populations Institute, Dalhousie University, PO Box 15000, Halifax, B3H 4R2 and IWK Health Centre, University Avenue, Halifax, NS, Canada

Active play has become a critical focus in terms of physical activity participation in young children. Unstructured or child-led play offers children the opportunity to interact with the environment in a range of different ways. Unstructured materials, often called loose parts, encourage child-led play, and therefore may also promote physical activity. The purpose of this scoping review was to determine what is currently known about how loose parts may influence physical activity participation. Following a systematic literature search, a total of 16 articles were retrieved, reviewed and categorized according to: (1) types of loose parts; (2) types of play; and (3) types of thinking. We found that there are currently a range of loose parts being used to support play, but the way in which they are implemented varies and there is a lack of clarity around how they might support the development of active outdoor play and physical literacy skills.
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Keywords loose parts; physical activity; active play; outdoor play; unstructured play; children; physical literacy; affordance theory

Citation: Natalie E. Houser, Lindsay Roach, Michelle R. Stone, Joan Turner, Sara F.L. Kirk. Let the Children Play: Scoping Review on the Implementation and Use of Loose Parts for Promoting Physical Activity Participation. AIMS Public Health , 2016, 3(4): 781-799. doi: 10.3934/publichealth.2016.4.781


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  • 3. Natalie E Houser, Jane Cawley, Angela Kolen, Daniel Rainham, Laurene Rehman, Joan Turner, Sara Kirk, Michelle Stone, A Loose Parts Randomized Controlled Trial to Promote Active Outdoor Play in Preschool-aged Children: Physical Literacy in the Early Years (PLEY) Project, Methods and Protocols, 2019, 2, 2, 27, 10.3390/mps2020027
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Copyright Info: 2016, Michelle R. Stone, et al., licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licese (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)

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