Babies learn about the world through all their basic senses i.e. what they see, hear, feel, taste and smell. Using the tactile sense is sometimes referred to as kinesthetic learning; a baby touches an object and feels if it is smooth or rough, hard or soft or hot or cold.
As babies develop they increasingly use these kinesthetic skills -playing with toys they can move, manipulating them by pushing buttons, turning knobs and pulling handles. They learn through experimentation, which results in confident and involved learners.
This is why I love putting together treasure baskets for Osh; these are baskets filled with household items and materials. They encourage babies to be inquisitive and allow them to learn through exploration. It enables them to gain confidence in making decisions, as they find out what they like and dislike. Osh, for example, loved toothbrushes and colourful bottle caps but he couldn’t bear to touch a sea sponge!
When to introduce treasure baskets
Babies of all ages can appreciate the sensory delights of a treasure basket, as long as it contains age-appropriate objects. Babies from 3 months will love watching a jar roll along filled with dried colourful rice or beads or anything that makes a noise to enhance their experience. A 7 month old, on the other hand, will enjoy using different kitchen utensils to bang on saucepans and make their own noise!
It is best to choose a time when bub is fully fed and alert – if your baby ie hungry or tired their attention won’t hold. In the past, Osh has spent a good hour captivated by the treasure – which made it a great activity if I wanted a break or needed to get ready! In fact, it is quite relaxing to sit back and watch them find things out for themselves providing a little support by describing how items feel, what they look like and what they are used for. It’s a great way of introducing new concepts and vocabulary to your little one.
What to put in treasure baskets
You can buy ready made treasure baskets but I prefer to find random bits around the house. It is important that you choose objects that are large enough not to be swallowed and are free from sharp edges our anything else that could be harmful – especially as your little one is likely to mouth it.
With Osh, I started by giving him random kitchen utensils for him to investigate. ..whisks, spatulas and silicone ice lolly moulds and he was so fascinated by them that I took to making a box. It’s a good idea to change the objects every week or so and reintroduce one or two items from previous baskets. You may find that some items do not hold your baby’s interest at first but become a firm favourite later on.
You will find that you run out of objects but I’ve found it a great way to keep bub entertain whilst visiting other people’s houses – as long as you can remember where things came from when it comes to putting them back!
Item ideas for treasure baskets
- Measuring spoons
- Wooden spoons
- Scarves – wool, silk, chiffon, cotton
- Large shells
- Make up brushes
- Tupperware – boxes and lids of all sizes and colours!
- Small toy animals
- Glittering light up disco ball
- Rolling pin
- Hair brush
- Compact mirror
- Cake tins, silicone moulds
- Cupcake cases
- Cookie cutters
- Egg boxes
- Large pices of cork
- Honey dipper
- Large colourful bottle tops
Happy treasure basket making!