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.
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:
- wooden spoon
- small musical toy
- rubber duck
- 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
- apple/orange or other large fruit
- large shell
- plastic jar filled with dried pasta
- container lids
- small soft toy
- small mirror
- large fir cone
- small box
- emery board
- soft baby brush
- tennis ball
- pastry brush
- various sizes of metal spoons
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.
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.
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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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