Treasure baskets are one of my favourite activities for babies but actually in my experience of working with young children, you can create treasure baskets for children of all ages!
A treasure basket is a collection of items that sparks interest and curiosity in children, so yep that could be children from babies to big kids!
Treasure baskets hold a special place in my heart. It was the catalyst that made me reignite my love for play and a huge part in me starting playHOORAY! I was an exhausted first time mum and looking for something for my just beginning to sit independently six month old baby. Recalling my days of working with young children I decided to set up a treasure basket. Grabbing a few (safe!) items from around the kitchen, I popped them in a shallow basket and sat back as my baby touched, tasted and explored the basket independently.
This is the photo of that very moment...
Watching a child explore a treasure basket is truly heart warming! Ok there may be times your baby tips out the whole basket, or just looks at one item before toddling off but don’t let that put you off! There are many reasons a child might not engage, mood and age can play a big part in this! When this does happen, don’t force the basket, instead trying playing with it yourself and let them watch you or put it away and try again another day when they’re in the mood to concentrate.
The best thing about treasure baskets is that they can be created using household items, no shopping list required! Putting together a collection of items with a similar theme can be extremely effective and very inviting to small explorers.
Here’s a list of themed items I like to use in treasure baskets:
- Things that roll
- Hooped items
- Shiny items
- Items of one particular colour
- Fruit or vegetables
- Wooden or natural items
- Safe kitchen utensils
- Christmas decorations
- Soft items
- Seasonal items
- Cleaning items
And then for slightly older children, perhaps toddlers and preschoolers you can try basing the items around a story or song theme. These can be a lovely way of bringing a story to life and engaging young children who easily get distracted!
These are known as story baskets or story sacks. The items I like to use for these might include:
- non-fiction book linked to theme
- soft toys
- Props from the story
- key words
- pictures from the book
- material or sheets
- Musical instruments
When introducing a treasure basket or story basket to a young children I like to leave it somewhere they will discover it for themselves, that way it is a more natural form of curiosity rather than it being forced. I usually place it on the floor and on some sort of mat. This acts as a visual boundary and ok won’t perform miracles but will often encourage a young child to keep the items in that area rather then spreading them across the room!!
Then I sit back and watch, try not to speak at all! Watch them and see what they do, it can be fascinating! It is especially important for them to use all of their senses to explore the items so supervise as they taste key items too, this is all part of their development!
When it feels like an appropriate time for you to join in, sit alongside your child and copy what they are doing, touching, tasting and generally exploring the items. Provide a running commentary which is basically like thinking out loud! This is a great way to introduce new vocabulary to your little one, yes even to babies too!
When your child loses interest and is ready to move onto something else, which they will do because their still young, praise them for exploring the basket and place it somewhere they can access it again if they choose to.
Now you have the resources together, try to revisit the treasure basket again and again over time. This will help to embed what they discovered and the new skills they are developing. This is also really enjoyable for you the adult too as you will see how quickly they develop over short periods of time. You might notice they concentrate for longer or find new ways to explore the items!
Try a treasure basket with your little one this week and just see where it takes you, I think you and your little one will love them and might become a regular ‘go-to’ activity for days at home!
And finally, just look at this super cute treasure basket made up by Marie one of our lovely customers which includes our BABY PLAYPROMPTS ACTIVITY CARDS to make a lovely gift for new parents! So thoughtful!