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Treasure Baskets

When you walk into shops or turn on the TV there are so many bright, noisy expensive toys everywhere and advertising likes to make out that you NEED them for your child to learn and grow. This is far from the truth.

Providing an inexpensive toy that will keep your child entertained for hours and beneficial to their development can be so simple. Make your child a treasure basket!

What's a treasure basket?

A Treasure Basket is a low-sided basket or box filled with natural and everyday items which your child can explore by themselves. They can have lots of fun investigating the different items which helps them expand their thinking. Young children enjoy playing with treasure baskets from when they are able to sit up onwards but you could always provide it in a tray for a baby to enjoy during tummy time. The Treasure Basket can be used indoors and outdoors.

How to make your own treasure basket…

Find a low-sided basket, box or tin and fill it with around 20 real-life objects from around the house or outside; of all different sizes and textures. Over time add and rotate items to help encourage new and different learning experiences and to keep interest high. Below are some ideas of items you could include;

Natural Made of Natural Materials Wooden Metal​Leather, Textiles and Rubber​Paper and Cardboard
Fir cones
Large pebbles
Dried gourds
Large chestnuts
Big feathers
Pumice stone
Large corks
Avocado pear stone
Large walnuts
Piece of loofah
Small natural sponge
A lemon
An apple
​Woollen ball
Little baskets
Bone shoe horn
Small raffia mat
Wooden nail brush
Shaving brush
Small shoe brush
House painting brush
Cosmetics brush
Cane bag handles
​Small boxes lined with velvet
Small drum
Bamboo whistles
Clothes pegs (dolly type)
Coloured beads on string
Cubes and short pieces of wood
Bobbins and cotton reels
Large curtain rings
Napkin rings
Spoons and spatulas
Egg cup
Small bowl
Small egg whisk
Bunch of keys
Small tins (with a smooth edge)
Toy trumpet
Lemon squeezer
Large brass curtain rings
Garlic press
Large whistle
Bottle brush
Bulldog paper clip
Safety mirror
Egg cup
Closed tins filled with rice or gravel
Tea strainer
Tin lids
Bike bell
​Puppy 'bone'
Leather purse
Small leather bag with a zip
Bouncy ball
Velvet powder puff
Furry ball
Length of rubber tubing
Small rag doll
Tennis ball
Golf ball
Leather spectacles case
Bath plug and chain
Small teddy bear
Bean bag
Small cloth bag with herbs in such as lavender, sage, rosemary or cloves
​Little notebook with spiral rings
Greaseproof paper
Small cardboard boxes
Kitchen-paper roll tubes

Once you have collected your items and made your treasure basket. Place it in an uncluttered space with all other toys put away and ensure the TV is off to create a quiet relaxing atmosphere.

Although the basket is for your child to explore on their own without any encouragement or distraction so they can explore freely at their own pace. Make sure you stay nearby and can see them as they explore as they will most likely explore every item by putting it to or in their mouths.

To maintain interest, 30 minutes a day playing with the basket is usually enough. Then put the basket away so that your child doesn't tire of the objects. There's no need to get the basket out every day. A couple of times a week is enough. ...

What is your child learning?

A treasure basket gives your child the opportunity to explore using all of their senses. They can feel, taste, hear, see and smell a variety of textures, manipulate, experiment and make choices. It develops fine motor skills, concentration, curiosity, strategies for exploring and helps them begin to make sense of the world around them.

So no need for expensive, noisy store brought toys just have a hunt around the house and see what treasures you can find for your child to explore.

​By Amy Jarrett
Teaching Supervisor