[EDIBLE] Loose Parts!

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When I first started researching Bank Street College of Education and their child life program, I stumbled upon the idea of loose parts. As a student, I continue to learn about the benefits of using loose parts to create something. In the world of child life, loose parts can be used for art projects, games, preparation and so much more! 

Claudia Mincemoyer (2016) says “loose parts can be natural or synthetic.” Why can’t they also be edible? As we know, loose parts can be used to help prepare children for upcoming procedures, surgeries or used when teaching a child about a diagnosis. Before you can explain what is going wrong in the body, sometimes you have to explain how it is supposed to work first. Creating a larger-scale model of the structure of the bone can help facilitate conversations, questions and clarify understanding for children who may be receiving a bone marrow transplant. The idea behind this activity is to create the model with a child to build rapport, learn about the structure of our bones and have some messy fun.

That parts of the bone that are represented in this model are the bone itself, veins, arteries, and the marrow. This model could be made more complex for older children and adolescents. Using bread or other sponge-like material can help represent the spongy tissue that is inside our bones. All of these materials can be substituted for other edible materials. Presenting multiple options for the child’s choosing provides the opportunity for the child to take ownership and personalize his bone model.

Materials:  Figure1

  • Plastic spoons
  • Strawberry jelly
  • Twizzlers Peelers
  • Loaf of bread
  • Knife
  • Syringe
  • Photo of bone structure
  • Gloves

Other Possible Materials for Substitution:

  • Tortilla
  • String Cheese
  • Hummus
  • Cucumber
  • String Beans
  • Ranch/dip
  • Donut
  • Fruit Roll-Ups
  • Gummy Worms
  • Whipped Cream
  • Food Coloring
  • Frosting
  • And more!

Instructions to make an Edible Bone Model:figure2.jpg

  1. Cut the loaf of bread into pieces. It may be helpful to do this prior to going into the room with a patient.
  2. Present materials with a photo of the bone structure. Giving a visual representation of the actual bone structure will help the child build connections to the model they are going to create. 
  3. Open the loaf of bread facing up. If able, have the child hollow out the inside of the bread. This can be done using a spoon or with your fingers.figure3.jpg
  4. Peel off strips of the Twizzlers. These will represent the veins and arteries that run throughout the bone.
  5. Use a spoon to spread the jelly on the sandwich. This part can be messy, so use gloves if needed.
  6. Close the bread.
  7. Eat!


Finished Product

When creating an edible bone model, it would be important to note any allergies or restrictions before completing this activity with a child. This activity could be used with a patient, a sibling, or even children of an adult patient who is in need of a blood transplant. This loose parts teaching activity can be brought into the 6th and 7th dimensions by using a syringe to demonstrate the removal and injection of the healthy bone marrow (Vilas, Koch, & Passmore, 2014). Allowing a child the opportunity to explore bone structure using loose parts can help a child and his family create meaning out of their medical experience.


Viola! 🙂

More to come…


Mincemoyer, C. (2016). Loose parts: What does this mean? Penn State Better Kid Care Program. State College, PA: The Pennsylvania State University http://bkc-od-media.vmhost.psu.edu/documents/tips1107.pdf
Vilas, D., Koch, C. & Passmore, L. (2014). Co-creating meaning: Loose Parts in the 7th Dimension. Child Life Bulletin. 33 (1) 4-5.

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