Easy ideas for creating a treasure basket that will stimulate your baby’s senses and encourage them to explore.
Did you know that the idea of a treasure basket has been around for over 70 years? The concept was first invented by Elinor Goldschmied in 1946. She found that using everyday objects with babies reduced crying and anxiety in abandoned children.
Some people add toys to a treasure basket. But traditional treasure baskets are filled with natural, everyday items that are safe for babies to explore. This is known as heuristic play. They don’t often include conventional toys but the items still provide the same learning possibilities for little ones.
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The Benefits of a Treasure Basket
Babies learn so much by playing with a treasure basket. A well thought out treasure basket will:
- Stimulate a baby’s senses
- Aid their physical development. The itmes will allow a baby to practise grasping, holding, turning objects over in their hands, putting them in the basket, and taking them out again.
- Build important connections in their brain
- Help them to learn and make sense of their world
Treasure baskets are also:
- Cheap to make
- A quick and simple activity
- Easy to tidy away. The basket is great for storing the items!
- Will last for months
- Can easily be changed by adding/taking away items
When creating a treasure basket, make sure your baby can easily access the items. Woven storage baskets work well because they’re soft and don’t have any sharp edges. Wooden baskets also work well too. They’re sturdy and don’t easily tip over.
Let’s have a look at some of the ideas for a treasure basket you can use to start making one for your baby today. Where possible, use a baby-safe antibacterial spray or wipes to clean the items first. Look for things that are fairly large in size and ensure they don’t contain any loose parts.
Things From the kitchen
The kitchen is a great place to start when thinking of ideas for a treasure basket. Have a look through your cupboards and draws and see what you can find. You may even rediscover things you forgot you had!
Here are some kitchen items that babies love to explore:
- Wooden spoons
- Measuring cups
- Rolling pin
- Cookie cutters
- Pots and pans
Things from around the home
- Remote – batteries removed
Things from Outside
There are so many things you can find outside to add to your baby’s treasure basket. Here are just a few ideas:
- Pebbles (make sure they’re large enough)
As mentioned above, a treasure basket is a great way to stimulate your baby’s senses. Here are some ideas of things you can add that will encourage your baby to hear, smell, touch, and taste, in addition to looking and exploring the objects.
- Rice in a pot
- Keys – make sure there are no sharp edges
- Hairbrush brush
- Patches of different fabrics
- Lids from containers
- Velvet jewelry bag
Smell and Taste
- Orange (also good for taste)
- Lemon (also good for taste)
- Spices in a plastic, baby-safe container. See my previous blog post for ideas
- Smelly socks – add lavender or other scented items to a clean sock and tie a knot in the top
Before throwing out your recycling, have a look at them closely, and see if they can be added to a treasure basket. Some of the things you may want to look out for include:
- Toilet roll tubes
- Jar lids
- Small cardboard boxes
- Small hand sanitizer bottles (washed out)
- Egg cartons
Other Ideas For a Treasure Basket
If you’re still stuck for ideas for a treasure basket or are still looking for more ways to add variety to your baby’s treasure basket, you can buy baby toys that are similar to everyday items. Babies will still reap all of the benefits from using these items in their treasure basket and they’re baby safe.
Treasure Basket Heuristic Play Toys
This heuristic play starter set includes all sorts of wooden treasure basket items. From egg cups to wooden rings, balls, and cubes. There’s plenty for your baby to explore. These heuristic play items are also great for older babies and toddlers. They encourage little ones to play and explore in their own way, encourage them to test ideas, and aid creativity.
Wooden Treasure Basket Items
Grapat inspired toys are ideal for treasure baskets because they’re bright, colourful and can be played with in different ways when your baby is older. Some examples include peg dolls, semi-spheres, sound blocks, and wooden disks.
When gathering items for a treasure basket, make sure you check each item thoroughly first. Look out for small parts that could come off or sharp edges. If you’re ever unsure about an item, it’s best to leave it out.
Make sure you always supervise your baby but give them plenty of time to explore the items on their own.
When creating treasure baskets for my baby, I made ones using different themes. Some included toys and others included everyday items from around the house. Check out the ideas here.
Want to learn more about treasure baskets and heuristic play? Check out the book – Heuristic learning for Infants’ and Toddlers for further reading.