What is a treasure basket?

Treasure baskets help your childs development

Having worked in childcare for many years, I have found that by using a treasure basket, it teaches children to explore and stimulate their senses. It is a very simple and inexpensive way to aid your baby/young child's development, by allowing them to pick up and explore objects using all of their senses. As a nursery nurse, I have found that it works best on babies from 6 months upwards. Depending on the age of the child, you can put various items into a treasure basket.

Babies and small children love treasure baskets.
Babies and small children love treasure baskets. | Source

How to make a treasure basket

Using a basket, cardboard box or plastic container, fill it with items that will interest your baby/young child. Babies love bright, colorful and noisy objects, so bear this in mind when filling your basket. Some ideas for a mixed baby treasure basket are:

  • toothbrush
  • wooden spoon
  • small musical toy
  • rubber duck
  • sponge
  • fluffy flannel
  • ball of wool
  • set of keys
  • stacking cups
  • crinkly paper or material
  • old television remote (remember to remove the batteries)
  • old mobile phone (with battery removed)
  • piece of ribbon
  • whisk
  • apple/orange or other large fruit
  • large shell
  • plastic jar filled with dried pasta
  • container lids
  • small soft toy
  • small mirror
  • large fir cone
  • coaster
  • small box
  • emery board
  • soft baby brush
  • tennis ball
  • pastry brush
  • various sizes of metal spoons
  • spatula
  • socks


The aim of a treasure basket

The aim of a treasure basket is to stimulate their senses as they learn through play. Choose a time that is convenient for you and your baby e.g. when they have been fed, changed and alert - this will make the experience more enjoyable for him/her. Sit your baby in a safe area within reach of the basket or box, supervise the child from a distance as it is important to allow them to explore the objects for themselves. Don't be alarmed as a baby's first reaction is to put things into their mouths, as long as there are no sharp or small items that can present a choking hazard they will be safe. You should find that your child will spend on average 20-30 minutes with their basket.

Babies tend to put everything in their mouths.
Babies tend to put everything in their mouths. | Source

Treasure baskets for older children

Treasure baskets are great for children aged 6 months to 2 years. If you have older children, you can put some items that are age appropriate and can still be beneficial up to the age of 4 or 5 years old. You could think about having a themed treasure basket. Some examples are:

Nature basket - you could include items such as some grass, flower, pebble, stone, leaves, fir cones, shells, piece of wood, cork, piece of slate. Anything that you find around the garden is useful for this activity.

Food Basket - This is a good way of introducing food to your child that they would not normally eat. Fill several small containers with different foods for them to try. Some ideas are cheese, carrot sticks, citrus fruit, raisins, sliced apple, rice cake, banana, cookie, cucumber. Any finger food is acceptable in small amounts for this taster session.

Rainbow Basket - This is a great way to teach your child about colours. Simply fill a box or basket with as many brightly coloured items as you can. Anything goes, from toys, bouncy balls, fabric etc. Interact with your child and let them tell you what color the item is and how it feels.

Play basket - Simply fill the basket with action toys that they can play with and discuss. This is an ideal way to encourage role play. Items that I have used are plastic tea cups, plastic cutlery, construction toys, hats, dressing up outfits etc.

Creative basket - this is another good way of getting your child to create something. I use glue sticks, cards, stickers, crayons, colored pencils, embellishments, jewels, scrap pieces of fabric and paper, glitter shaker, pictures from magazines, safety scissors etc. This will encourage them to show their crafty side and be creative with the materials provided.

Have you used treasure baskets to enhance your child's learning and development?

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Variety is the spice of life

It is a good idea to give your baby/child a treasure basket once or twice a month. Take some time to think it out and always try to incorporate new items each time you do this activity. By doing this, your child will investigate different objects each time and engage their interest.

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Comments 17 comments

Laura Matkin profile image

Laura Matkin 4 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

What a great Idea! I give my son odd things to play with but this gives me some great ideas and I believe he would love to go through a basket. He gets into stuff frequently it's amazing I never would have thought to give him his own basket to explore. Thank you for writing this wonderful article!


kozmo profile image

kozmo 4 years ago

I enjoyed reading your article. My blog on abclegacy.com is similar in nature, but I have never discussed a treasure basket. You're ideas would go well with my posts.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 4 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

@ Laura Matkin - Thanks for your lovely comments. My children loved treasure baskets when they were younger. It seemed to occupy them for around half an hour at a time and they loved the freedom to explore the objects. Thanks for stopping by.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 4 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

@ kozmo - Hi and thanks for stopping by. I had a quick look at your website and it is really informative and well presented. I have bookmarked for later when I can read it at a more leisurely pace. Thanks again for your comment.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Great resource! This is a wonderful idea for both teachers and parents. I love how you can customize it in so many different ways.


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

Hi jacqui, this is such a lovely idea, both interesting for the parent to put together and for the child to play with. I love your ideas for the contents too, this far exceeds anything you can buy in the shops.

Voted up and thank you for sharing.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 4 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

@ randomcreative - Thanks so much for your comments. It's such a simple and inexpensive way of contributing towards your child's development. We use this method in the nursery very frequently.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 4 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

@ Movie Master - Thanks for your lovely comment and the vote up. My daughters both loved treasure baskets. It used to make me laugh at Christmas when they were small, they always found the cardboard boxes more interesting than the contents. Cheap and cheerful way to enhance your child's learning. Thanks again for stopping by, I appreciate it.


kelleyward 4 years ago

Nice Idea. I'm really starting to get interested in getting back to the basics and this is something that would help me do this. Thanks


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 4 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

@ kelleyward - I'm glad that you found the hub useful. I love the fact that the children can explore using materials and objects from around the house. Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate your feedback.


kozmo profile image

kozmo 4 years ago

I think it is wonderful when we share simple, practical ideas. Our world is becoming too complex, and some of the basic ideas are best. We have to help each other make this world a better place. Please check out my web site named abclegacy and find other great ideas for a young child and developing literacy. Talk later!


kozmo profile image

kozmo 4 years ago

Back to the basics for sure! Mothers best wisdom is a valuable resource, and learning about everyday articles helps children when it comes to beginning reading. Check out abclegacy.com.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 4 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

@ kozmo - Thanks again for your comments. I will be sure to check out your website. I do agree with you that life does seem to get complex and hectic at times and its nice to step back and take a look at what we have at hand to aid our child's development.


SanneL profile image

SanneL 4 years ago from Sweden

This is such a great idea! To reuse articles you already have and turn them into inspirational objects for the child to explore. A wonderful way to go Green! Great advice, Great hub. Voted up and thank you for sharing!


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 4 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

@ SanneL - It is such a good way to go Green. Parents can get back to basics and children just love exploring. Thanks so much for your comments and the vote up.


Laura Matkin profile image

Laura Matkin 4 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

I made the basket and my 10 month old son loves it! Thank you again for sharing jacqui2011.


jacqui2011 profile image

jacqui2011 4 years ago from Leicester, United Kingdom Author

@ Laura Matkin - I'm glad your son liked the treasure basket. It's cheap and very entertaining, and its lovely to watch them explore all the different items. Thank you for stopping by. Best wishes.

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