A treasure trove of fun

Making a treasure basket or treasure bag is a great way to provide your little one with lots of wonderful sensory play opportunities.

Babies and young children love to touch, feel and explore. It’s through these sensory experiences that they learn. Sensory play is important for developing their senses and laying the foundations for all future learning.

If you want to create your own treasure basket, it’s easier than you think.

Top tips for creating a treasure basket

  • Introduce everyday items that you find around the house

  • Items should be clean and non-toxic

  • Items shouldn’t be too small/plastic or electronic

  • Present the items in low sided baskets that are easily accessible for babies

  • Alternate items to keep children interested

  • Set baskets out in a relaxed environment, sit back and let your child explore and make their own choices and discoveries

  • Always supervise your little one while they are playing with a treasure basket

What to put in a treasure basket

It’s a good idea to create a number of themed baskets e.g. metallic, natural/wooded, noisy, textile. Have a look around the house and see what you can find. Or scour bargain stores for objects. The following is a list of suggestions for each basket but this list is not exhausted.

Metallic treasure basket

  • Pan scourer

  • Metal whisk

  • Metal spoons

  • Tea strainer

  • Bangles

  • Napkin ring

  • CD

  • Jam jar lids

  • Small metal bowls

  • Piece of foil blanket

  • Keys

  • Length of chain

Wood/natural treasure basket

  • Wooden spoon

  • Small wooden bowl

  • Wooden bangles

  • Meat tenderiser

  • Pine cones

  • Pastry brush

  • Shaving brush

  • Driftwood

  • Feathers

  • Pumice stone

  • Natural sponge

  • Dolly pegs

  • Bells

  • Homemade shakers

  • Tin can

  • Dolly pegs

  • Wooden spoons

  • Piece of foil blanket

Textile treasure basket

  • Knitted glove

  • Netting

  • Felt

  • Satin

  • Ribbons

  • Crocheted square

  • Velvet

The benefits of treasure baskets

Using real-life, everyday objects in play is really nothing new. For generations, children have had endless hours of fun playing with household items. As a child, I loved nothing better than to bang a wooden spoon on my mum’s saucepans or make mud pies in the garden using a variety of old kitchen utensils and pans.

Treasure baskets filled with lots of sensory treats, provide endless benefits for babies and young children.

Playing and Learning

By providing treasure baskets full of lots of different and interesting things, you are stimulating all the senses and helping your child understand the world around them.

The objects in treasure baskets offer opportunities for open-ended discovery and can be used in a variety of ways. Because the items are open ended, they allow children to use their imagination and to be creative. They can take risks, without a fear of failure.

Active learning

The nature of the items provided is likely to create great interest and maintain your child’s focus. Children will be fascinated by the wide variety of objects that all look, feel and, potentially, sound different.

Because play is opened-ended, there is no right or wrong way to play with the items, this helps to build confidence and increases motivation and satisfaction.

Providing such a variety of different objects, gives countless opportunities to introduce new vocabulary. Think about how you can describe the different textures, shapes, sounds and materials. Something that is limited with commercial, plastic toys.

Creating and thinking critically

Children will use the items in a number of different ways and treasure baskets offer endless opportunities for children to be creative and think critically.

Treasure baskets give lots of opportunity for trial and error and problem solving. Watch a group of young children with a treasure basket and observe how they all use the same item in a variety of ways.

Beyond the Treasure Basket

Treasure baskets are ideal from when your baby can sit up to early 3 year olds, but don’t let natural play stop there. Think about how you can continue to use everyday, household items in play – in water and sand play, outdoors in the mud kitchen, in all sorts of role play. The opportunities are endless and the benefits are great.

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