In line with adding more nature to our classroom we are currently working on improving our selection of Treasure Baskets. I know from my last training course I attended, that many practitioners (and parents) are not yet familiar with what a Treasure Basket is, or don’t use them at all – so let’s introduce them.
What is a Treasure Basket?
A Treasure Basket is a shallow basket filled with a variety of interesting natural materials that babies can pick up and explore – mainly through mouthing.
Who is it for?
Treasure Baskets are mainly for non mobile babies that are able to sit up with or without support. It allows babies to select various combinations of items from the basket and explore, with all senses.
What do I put inside?
A Treasure Basket should contain round about 20 – 30 objects that babies can select and explore. It is important that any items you use are safe – use a choking tube if necessary – and interesting. It is best to only use natural materials such as wood, metal and fabrics as these have a texture and often a smell as well so it really engages babies’ senses. To find out if an item is interesting put it in your own mouth and see if it feels interesting! Also include larger items such as a ladle as it is more work for babies to pick those up and it gives them a sense of proportion.
I will provide a list of objects we are collecting at the end of this article.
It is important that you consider cleanliness and don’t allow babies to share items that have been mouthed, simply wipe the wooden items and sterilise anything you can. Therefore you might want to have a selection of contents so if one baby has just used a Treasure Basket you can simply fill the basket with a different set and pass it to another baby while the other ones are being cleaned.
How do I use the Treasure Baskets? Is there anything I have to do?
Simply place the baby close to the basket so s/he can reach inside and grasp items. There isn’t anything you need to do apart from supervising baby. It can be very fascinating to watch babies explore different textures and be sure to note down what they find interesting (metal vs. wood) and how they use items (shaking, banging etc.) Simply make sure baby is happy to explore and help out if s/he loses anything and can’t reach or gets tired from sitting.
How does this link to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)?
Personal, Social and Emotional Development
0-11 months: •Responds to what carer is paying attention to, e.g. following their gaze.
8 – 20 months: •Shows interest in the activities of others and responds differently to children and adults, e.g. may be more interested in watching children than adults or may pay more attention when children talk to them.
Self-Confidence and Self-Awareness
8 – 20 months: •Engages other person to help achieve a goal, e.g. to get an object out of reach.
Managing Feelings and Behaviour
0 – 11 months: •Shows a range of emotions such as pleasure, fear and excitement.
Communication and Language
Listening and attention
8 – 20 months: •Has a strong exploratory impulse.
•Concentrates intently on an object or activity of own choosing for short periods.
8 – 20 months: •Uses pointing with eye gaze to make requests, and to share an interest.
Moving and Handling
0 – 11 months: •Reaches out for, touches and begins to hold objects.
•Explores objects with mouth, often picking up an object and holding it to the mouth.
8 – 20 months: •When sitting, can lean forward to pick up small toys.
•Holds an object in each hand and brings them together in the middle, e.g. holds two blocks and bangs them together.
Shape, space and measure
8 – 20 months: •Recognises big things and small things in meaningful contexts
Possible Items to collect:
Wooden Egg Cup
Different kinds of spoons of various sizes
Cotton swatches of various colours
These are just some examples of items you might want to include. You can also add citrus fruits with a very hard skin fresh on the day.
Please keep checking back for an upcoming article on Heuristic Play.
To read more about Treasure Baskets and Heuristic Play follow my Pinterest board on Heuristic Play and Treasure Baskets here.
Hope you enjoyed reading, if you have any ideas on Treasure Baskets please comment, I’d love to here them.