Treasure Baskets

Hands up if you knew what treasure baskets were BEFORE kids? Yeah, me neither…

I was first introduced to the idea of “treasure baskets” at our space group.
It seemed to me like someone jacked the old fashioned idea that kids don’t need much more than a wooden spoon and some pots to have a good time am I right!? I mean, kids love to explore their world and the whole treasure basket thing has taken that premise and made it an academic idea. Regardless, I love the idea of Mackenzie exploring everyday items and figuring out the differences between hard, soft, cold, warm, smooth and rough etc.

Put simply, a treasure basket is a basket of 10 or more common household items of varying size, texture and shape. You can put pretty much anything into the basket for baby to explore so long as it’s safe for them to handle considering EVERYTHING goes into their mouth. I’ve heard that anything small enough to fit into an old film canister is too small, and of course you can use common sense when it comes to assessing an item’s suitability (like no, that tube of glue wouldn’t be so great). The other key factor to a treasure basket is that baby should be left free to explore it on their own with little or no distraction. Too often I find I have an urge to jump in and show Mackenzie how stuff works, but it’s way cooler when she figures it out herself! I sit back and find I’m that geeky proud mama when her kid figures out stuff like how a peg can fit into a formula tin through a hole. lol.

I did a little research (ie. googling) and came across some good stuff on the topic…
This article here explains treasure baskets really well and I absolutely LOVE the comment about modern baby toys.
If you take a stroll into any toy aisle you’ll find all of the toys look pretty similar, and do pretty much the same thing. Some brands are better than others (I actually really like our Lamaze toys) but for the most part what seems like it might be stimulating to an adult is really not for a baby. I know this because there are a lot of educational toys that Mackenzie could not give two craps about, however she loves anything that’s not a traditional toy. Her favourite thing is a short length of knotted rope, and her poi!?

We made quite a few crafts at space and unfortunately we had to finish early as I went back to work, but see here for some cool crafty ideas… You’ll see that I’m not a very gifted crafter, but I’m trying and getting better, I think. I mean, I’m in no way a primarily creative or ‘soft’ person. I’m pretty methodical and analytical, but that being said, I’ve really loved doing stuff with Mackenzie that is artistic and expressive.

The beauty of a treasure basket is that you can keep a large stock of “stuff” aside and then offer 10-20 different items each time. Babies change so much that an item which didn’t pique their interest a couple weeks ago might make them go crazy with excitement tomorrow, it’s an ever changing landscape. It’s so cool to see Mackenzie discovering new things about the same items over and over again. Like, how does this taste? then, how does this feel? How does this sound when I bang it into this other thing? Does this make a noise when I shake it? Does this have a smell? How does it feel against my cheek? What happens when i throw this? etc.

You can go with a mixture of different textures and colours or do themed baskets. I love a good theme, I won’t lie, I’m that lady who matches her shoes to her bag! Or her lipstick to her shoes! Or her nails to her outfit…!
So here’s a few different baskets I’ve given Mackenzie to explore, you’ll see I’m a bit of a rebel and do use toys in the baskets but not 100% of the time 🙂

Wooden items:  


Plastic items: 


Soft items: 


Hard items:  




Noisy items:  


Black n white:  


Natural colours:  


Round items:  


Metal items: 


Do you create treasure baskets for your little one/s?

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