Aim of the game:
Treasure Baskets are a great form of exploratory play for your baby, using natural materials to stimulate your baby’s senses. The concept was inspired by Elinor Goldschmied many years ago, opposing the trend of plastic fantastic toys by reintroducing the importance of natural materials for a richer sensory experience. Treasure Baskets also offer parents the opportunity to model different types of vocabulary, particularly concept words about texture such as ‘soft’, ‘hard’, ‘bumpy’, ‘rough’, ‘smooth’, ‘spiky’ etc. Treasure Baskets can be bought commercially but we prefer to make them ourselves from items around the home. Make sure you choose items are are baby safe as they are likely to want to put them in their mouth.
What you will need:
A baby safe willow or wicker basket to put the objects in. A box or tub is fine as an alternative.
Textiles to explore:
Soft velour or silks
Ribbons or wool pompoms
Lace, faux fur or scarves
Emergency foil blanket (like the ones given out at sporting events)
Natural items to explore:
Large fir/pine cones or natural loofa
Wooden curtain rings or wooden bracelets
Wooden or metal spoons and whisks
Large pebbles or seashells
Leather gloves or purses
How to play:
- Turn off any distractions such as the TV, radio, put your mobile phone on silent etc
- Sit or lie down opposite your baby so you are face to face, this way you can see their reaction and share the enjoyment as they explore the items
- Present the basket to your baby and wait to allow them time to explore the items first. If they are hesitant, then you can demo to them what to do.
- Try to let them explore the objects in their own way rather than leading or directing the play, this way they’ll feel they are making new discoveries and will want to explore more!
- Simply comment on what they are doing or feeling as they explore the items in the basket. Simple language such as single words or short phrases will be easier for them to listen to and learn (e.g. “oh soft…soft blanket…very soft”).
How to extend:
- Change up the toys in the Treasure Basket! By rotating and changing the toys in the basket your child will never get bored and will have the opportunity to explore different textures and stimulate their different senses.
- Engage your baby’s sense of smell by introducing lemons, limes or satsumas into a Treasure Basket.
- Get collecting and introduce collections items so they can compare and contrast. For example, collections of shells, large pebbles, different sized pine cones etc. This allows you to introduce vocabulary around the concepts of size (e.g. big, little, small, bigger, huge, smaller etc).
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