I’ve written before about the concept of Treasure Baskets and how they provide valuable sensory and learning experiences for very young children. The idea is that babies aged 6-18 months can enjoy playing with a ‘treasure basket’ of ordinary household items which can provide more stimulation and sensory input than traditional toys.
I made a Treasure Basket for A around the start of the year, and he really enjoyed playing with it for a long while. We noticed that he would remain interested in the items in the Treasure Basket for longer than he would with many of his ordinary playthings, and there were particular items (such as a metal nutcracker) that he would often seek out and play with for extended periods of time. I had intended to continue keeping an eye for out other items to add to the Treasure Basket, in order to keep it fresh and interesting, but life got in the way and I haven’t got around to it!
I decided to refresh the Treasure Basket and put together a collection of items based on the theme of circles and spheres. In it, I included some of the original items, as well as finding some new items from around the house: a ball, a slice of loofah, a wooden bowl, curtain rings, jam jar lids, a tin plate from a teaser, a desk bell, a cardboard tube, a circle of MDF, a rattle and a sink strainer. Any other household item could be included, provided that it is safe and, ideally, non-plastic – so items such as an unwanted CD, a bracelet, or a pastry cutter would be ideal.
At his current age (11 months), A is still gaining a lot from investigating the individual items and their varied sensory elements. Children begin to recognise similarities in shape and colour around the age of eighteen months, so activities like this will help him to begin to become more aware of these similarities and start to be able discriminate between different shapes over the next few months.
When I first presented the Treasure Basket to him, A enjoyed pulling all the items out and exploring what was in the basket. He kept returning to the loofah, chewing it and exploring the feel of it before moving on to something else and then coming back to it again. He investigated the lids, turning them over and over and noticing the difference between the plain side and the patterned side. He enjoyed squashing and bending the cardboard tube, and also banging various items together and noticing the different sounds that they made.
Once he had explored the items, I spent some time building towers with the objects for him to knock down. This is one of his favourite games at the moment! This became a good activity for T as well, since these objects presented more of a challenge for building with than regular building blocks.
What he is learning:
- Using senses to explore the world around them
- Developing concentration and maintaining focus for short periods
- Exploring concepts such as size, weight and shape
- Learning about cause and effect by knocking down towers