I love watching and supporting babies exploring Treasure Baskets. Seeing the delight in their faces as they explore textures, tastes and smells that are so very different to the plastic that so many toys are made off. Treasure Baskets have always been a part of my BabyBeans classes since they began in 2007 and as Jellybeans Music enters it’s 13th year of classes, new baskets have been created over the summer just waiting to be explored and loved.
I first discovered Treasure Baskets during my training to be a Montessori Directress back in the 1990s and I fell in love with them immediately. When I became a mum, Treasure Baskets became part of our world and my three babies and I spent many, many happy hours sitting contentedly together while they emptied and explored the contents.
So what is a Treasure Basket? Essentially it is a low, wicker, round basket crammed full of objects full of different textures, tastes and smells, that can be found all over the house and in nature. From pine cones to wooden spoons. Lemon squeezers to doorstops. Silk scarves to leather purses, these baskets are full of wonder and delight as they are emptied, loaded, explored and mouthed.
Why is this sort of play important? Treasure Baskets allow babies to discover and learn things by exploring every day objects, not toys. Have a look at the toys in your house. The majority are probably brightly coloured plastic or wood and while they can stimulate some of the senses they are unlikely to create opportunities for babies to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. When a baby is exploring a Treasure Basket, this play is described as Heuristic, quite simply the interaction between everyday objects and a baby/child. The term Heuristic was coined by Elinor Goldschmeid in the 1980s and this way of playing encourages eye hand coordination, fine motor skills, muscle control and creativity and imagination.
Interested? Intrigued? Here’s how to build your own Treasure Basket just for your baby
Find a low flat container – your baby will be exploring this container and will tip it over so ideally something they can lean on safely. Wicker is perfect due to it’s texture but a cardboard shoebox is also a great way to start
Have a look through your kitchen drawers and around your home. Everything you need is already there! Wooden spoons, shiny metal ladles. Wooden egg cups, wooden curtain rings. Nail brushes, loofahs, shells, keys, pine cones. The list is endless, use your imagination and don’t forget smells, lemons, limes, oranges. Your baby will examine, squeeze, shake, mouth, drop, shake, rub items so remember to check for safety and cleanliness.
Pop them into the container, turn the TV or music off and show the box to your baby. Sit quietly next to them but don’t interfere with their play. Smile as they show you what they’ve found, name it but don’t take over. This is their play and you are there to give them confidence and security. If you watch closely, you’ll see when they’ve had enough and at that point take the basket away for another time.
So what are you waiting for? Use your imagination and let your baby discover our amazing day to day world