Loose parts nature play is unstructured play that promotes creativity and imagination, increases physical activity, promotes cooperation and communication, reduces stress, improves psychological well-being, fosters critical thinking skills, decision making and appropriate risk taking while fostering a connection to nature. Unstructured play helps children learn about the world around them with no fixed instructions. This enhances critical thinking, problem-solving skills and adaptability as they experiment and discover new ways to play.  

Loose parts kits are a collection of items that are used to build and create in a free, unstructured environment. We have a variety of materials to choose from for the loose parts kit including fort building materials, nature items, exploration materials and small world creation figures. 

Photo of a child posing in front of a fort she created, a close up of small word diorama, two children pretending to drive a car with a natural wood steering wheel

Where to Get One

Kits are housed at the City of Austin Parks & Recreation Annex (919 W. 28th 1/2 St, Austin, TX 78705). Community members who wish to borrow the kits may check them out from the Parks and Recreation Annex, 919 W. 28th ½ St, Austin TX 78705. Park at the front of the building off West 28 ½ St and ring the bell at the main entrance.




All kits come with a large, collapsible wagon to transport the contents.

  • Tree cookies 
  • Fossils & rocks
  • Bones
  • Shells
  • Seedpods, pinecones, and acorns
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Figurines (insects, animals, dragons, fairies, etc.)
  • Fort building materials – bamboo (two sizes: 2’ -  3’ or 6’ – 8’ long), fabric, sticklets

Loose Parts Kits are reserved on a first come first serve basis. Reservations are subject to availability. We recommend reserving a kit at least 3 to 4 weeks prior to an event. If the kit is returned with extensive damage and loss of materials totaling $50 and over, we reserve the right to refuse future kit rental and check-out. 

**Please note the length of the bamboo when customizing the kit to ensure your vehicle can hold the poles.*

Close up of loose parts kit that includes tree cookies, fossils, shells, figurines, and fort building materials

Borrow One Today!

Step 1. Fill out our Online Checkout Form

Step 2. Pick up your kit from the Parks & Recreation Annex

Step 3. Host your Activity

Step 4. Return your kit

Step 5. Fill out our Wrap-up Report

A photo of a fully loaded wagon used to haul the kit


For questions, please contact Yasmine Anderson, PARD Program Coordinator, at yasmine.anderson@austintexas.gov, or phone at (512) 974-9408.