Recently in babyroom we have been exploring and developing Treasure Baskets with the our babies. Our babies have absolutely loved exploring the variety of items provided in the baskets and have spent lots of concentration investigating them. A favourite task our babies like to do is fill and empty containers with smaller items from the basket to make different noises. They also love tapping the jam jar lids together to make sounds.
A treasure basket is a large basket filled with everyday items made from natural materials such as feathers, paintbrushes, spoons, wooden hoops, jar lids etc. It is an activity that promotes learning with babies giving them the opportunity to explore, experiment and make choices at their own individual pace. As soon as a baby can sit up unaided and can grasp and handle objects (approx. six months plus) you can give them a treasure basket to play with.
We used a large round basket that is heavy enough so that the babies can’t pull it over when they are sat next to it. We filled the basket to the top with a range of natural and everyday items, but not plastic or shop bought toys. This gave our babies plenty of items to sort through and select to explore. The aim of the collection is to fully engage the baby’s five senses; touch, sight, sound, smell and taste.
It is important to regularly change the items in the treasure basket and introduce new objects to keep it exciting and interesting for our babies. The babies gain a rich sensory experience through sucking, handling and putting items in their mouths. And by doing this they are also learning about weight, size, shape, texture, sound and smell.
The basket should be in an area that’s free from other distractions with the baby sitting next to the basket so they can easily reach it. Support them with a cushion if they need it.
As practitioner, we stay quiet and watch closely without intervening unless the baby clearly needs attention or is tired. Let the baby explore independently and don’t make suggestions, praise them or try to help or distract them.
It is important before using a treasure basket with a baby that you check the items to make sure none of them are broken or damaged and that they are safe to use. It is also important to be conscious of any allergies. As the ‘treasure’ is made up of natural materials, allergies are a possibility. As babies handle and put items in their mouth you will need to care for the contents of the basket and regularly wash or wipe objects and remove or replace damaged items.
We have developed a display on Treasure Baskets for our parents to have a look at to encourage them to make their own at home. The display comes with lots of ideas of what to include and we often talk to our babies’ parents about what they have enjoyed exploring most.
Fir cones, large pebbles, shells, big feathers, large corks, natural sponges, pom poms, little baskets, nail brush, large paintbrushes, cosmetics brushes, clothes pegs, bobbins and cotton reels, curtain rings, napkin rings, spoons and spatulas, egg cups, small cardboard boxes, ribbons etc