Treasure baskets are filled with everyday items made from natural materials, such as a paint brush, metal spoon, rolling pins, fir cones, and feathers. The idea of playing with everyday items is not new, but a simple treasure basket gives babies an opportunity to explore, experiment and make choices at their own pace.

At Little Explorers Day Nursery, babies are provided with a variety of ‘treasures’ in their room, these may be in their trays or in different areas of the room. At home you can make your own treasure basket, here’s how:

• The basket will need to have a flat bottom and be strong enough for the baby to lean on without tipping. It should be made from a natural material such as willow (and not plastic).
• Fill the basket to the top with a range of natural and everyday items, but not plastic or shop bought toys. The aim of the collection is to fully engage the baby’s five senses; touch, sight, sound, smell and taste.
• Regularly change the items in the treasure basket and introduce new objects. Babies gain a rich sensory experience through sucking, handling and putting items in their mouths. By doing this they are also learning about weight, size, shape, texture, sound and smell.

A baby’s concentration on a treasure basket can sometimes last an hour or more. The contents stimulate a baby’s curiosity and allow them to discover objects through first-hand experiences. The baby will also enjoy the independent decision-making involved in choosing items.

During treasure basket play, the adults should be attentive, but should not intervene, except to ensure the safety and maintain social contact with the baby. It is recommended that adults do not participate in the Treasure Basket sessions, being careful not to interfere or guide the baby, but sensitive interaction and communication will add to the richness of the experience.