• What does “heuristic” mean?

The term heuristic play was coined by Elinor Goldschmied (1910-2009). Heuristic play is about supporting curiosity, wonder, imagination and free exploration.  The open ended, everyday objects, allow children to select, explore, manipulate and compare items with each other. During this type of exploration play, the child is engaged in their own learning journey and building their own opinions about what the object can or can't do. 


  • What is the “theory of loose parts”?

Loose parts are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. They are materials with no specific set of directions that can be used alone or combined with other materials. You'll find our loose parts collection offers many different objects, of all shapes, sizes and textures to excite and spark children's imagination and sensory learning. All objects are eco friendly and you won't find any plastic here! 

“A ‘loose-parts’ toy, as Nicholson defined it, is open-ended; children may use it in many ways and combine it with other loose-parts through imagination and creativity” - Richard Louv


  • I’ve got a heuristic set now what do I do?

We get asked this many times! And the answer is simply – NOTHING! Well not quite that simple, but a heuristic set is designed to spark curiosity, wonder, excitement, engagement, creativity, adventure and exploration. Everyday, simple, open ended items, that ignite the senses through different textures, sizes and materials, that don’t require any batteries! A heuristic set aims to be a calming and engaging “toy” that ignites a child’s inner urge to explore the world around them, while sparking their imagination.

Follow our simple steps below to get the most out of your heuristic play set.

  1. Pick a quite space in your home that is free from “traffic”. By this we mean a space that it not a thoroughfare or a space where people/animals will need to step over to get past. A little corner in your living space is ideal as this ensures your child feels safe and secure in their own play space, setting up the perfect environment to explore. Ensure this is a space you can easily supervise, and is away from any potential furniture that may fall into your child eg: book shelf, tv etc…
  2. Once you have found your ideal space, place a blanket or rug on the floor. This gives warmth and comfort as well as defining the space intended for play. This indicates to your child that this is their “yes” space, that they are allowed to freely explore here. A nice soft blanket works well on carpet, or a rug if you have wooden floors.
  3. Gather your loose parts and place them on the blanket/rug. You can either leave them in the cotton bag or place them in a low, sturdy basket. Ideally the basket will need to have a flat bottom and be made from a natural material.
  4. Next invite your child to explore this space. For a child who is sitting, having the bag or basket available is enough to spark their curiosity. Sit beside them and discover alongside your child as they explore it’s contents. Let your child lead the play. Your role is to observe, while also being present and available. You can use descriptive language to describe what they are learning such as: soft; smooth; rough; shiny; hard; bumpy; flat; round; squishy. For a child who is non-mobile, place a few items on either side of their upper body. Close enough for your child to reach out and grab what interests them, but far away enough that it allows them a little challenge and promotes movement. This encourages them to move their head from side to side, kick their legs and stretch their arms. You can also sit beside your child and offer different objects to them to hold. Again use the descriptive language to describe what they are experiencing. Remember this is all new to in infant who is just learning about the world. Giving them words to match their learning all help them to build the important connections for healthy brain development.

Enjoy this time with your little one, take it slow and soak up the wonder that is their learning. Always supervise your baby while they are exploring with their heuristic set, especially if they like to mouth objects. Remember, this is all part of their learning, but safety always comes first.


  • What age are these for?

Heuristic sets and loose parts can be used with children of all ages, ensuring they are age appropriate and do not pose a choking hazard for a child aged under three. All our heuristic sets are safe for children aged under three. It is however, your responsibility to ensure you select products which are suitable to your individual context, your child's age & stage, and under adult supervision at all times while children are playing with these products. We strongly advise mandatory adult supervision at all times. You can check our information on safe play here.


  • Are you eco-friendly?

YES! We pride ourselves on maintaining our stance on being plastic free. Our heuristic sets come in a cotton linen blend bag, or an organza bag, and all your orders are wrapped in Geami WrapPak, which is naturally biodegradable, compostable, recyclable and made from sustainable forests. We then wrap in another layer of FSC certified & acid free tissue paper and pop into a GoSweetSpot compostable courier bag derived from biopolymers and co-polymer; PBAT (polybutylene adipate terephthalate), Corn-starch and PLA (polylactic acid). 


  • Why should I trust you?

We are experts on play and we are serious about safety.

We are also parents ourselves and we understand that providing safe play items for your little one is important to you and your child. Our founder, Angela, is also qualified Early Childhood Teacher, with over a decade of experience specializing in infants and toddlers teaching and learning, including being responsible for ensuring children have a safe space to play and explore in. We have set ourselves high standards for safety and we are committed to upholding and maintaining these.

  • We would not sell any items that we wouldn’t give to our own children
  • When adding to our range we asses their size, durability and age appropriateness
  • Each item is checked before adding to our inventory
  • Each item is then checked again before it is sent out to you
  • All items are stored hygienically and safely, ensuring our high standards of quality are met
  • We ensure all items meet the safety standard AS/NZ 8124.1:2023 part 1

We know the biggest safety concern is choking and that is why all of our items have been tested using a certified choking cylinder, as recommended by the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission. We do still however STRONGLY ADVISE MANDATORY ADULT SUPERVISION AT ALL TIMES and that you are ultimately responsible for ensuring you select items that are suitable to your individual child’s needs.


  • How do I clean my play treasures?

We understand that hygiene is important, more than ever these days! We recommend that for all wooden and metal parts, you use a mix of vinegar and water (1:10) and wipe each part with a damp cloth, making sure to squeeze out any excess water. Pop in the sun to dry. For cloth materials, simply wash in soapy water and dry in the sun.


  • Do you wholesale? 

Yes we do! For all wholesale inquiries please email us directly at hello@projectplay.co.nz. We’d be happy to discuss your needs and develop a partnership with you!


  • Tell me about your shipping service 

All ProjectPlay orders are sent via GoSweetSpot from our office in Hawke's Bay. Please allow up to 2 working days for your order to be processed and ready for courier pick up. We aim for overnight delivery once orders are ready to be collected, however sometimes this is out of our control. We recommend allowing up to 5 business days from door to door. You will receive courier tracking information, so please check it regularly and reach out to us if you have any questions.

Our current shipping charges are;

NEW ZEALAND (pricing dependant on your shipping address)

Up to $50.00 spend -     From $6.75
From $50.01 to $100.00 -      From $7.95
$100.01 to $199.99 -      From $9.50
Rural Delivery -      From $10.95  

Shipping via GoSweetSpot (various courier services used)

$16.95 AUD via NZ Post (ePARCEL service)


Anything we haven't answered? Please head to our 'Contact Us' page and send us a message.