Activities | Treasure Baskets

A treasure basket is a lovely resource to have for children.

“Heuristic play was a term coined by a child psychologist Elinor Goldschmeid in the early 1980’s. Heuristic play describes the activity of babies and children as they play with and explore the properties of ‘objects’. These ‘objects’ are things from the real world”. (Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks, 2015).

These objects are generally household items, you may like to buy a second of each so that you don’t have to raid the kitchen drawer (this will save you lots of washing up too). Treasure baskets are best for children who are sitting up to about 18 months. However my 2.5 year old is still very interested in the objects, and uses them to create lots of noise! I’ve also found some tummy time with treasure basket play is a good way to start with a younger baby, I tend to lie facing baby for ultimate bonding.

Items should be tactile; it’s all about the feel and the texture for children of this age, exploring things by putting them in their mouth etc.

Although my basket is currently looking a bit empty, it’s easy to add items to a treasure basket. It is suggested that you don’t fill the basket entirely, as this maybe overwhelming for a young baby. They may only be able to explore 15-20 items max. The good thing is you can easily add everyday items, equally you can buy more relatively cheapily. You don’t have to spend a fortune although you need to make sure the quality of items is high. Babies of this age will put everything in their mouths, therefore items need to be safe and secure, and big enough to prevent choking. If you aren’t sure don’t put it in. You should also check the items regularly and clean them, as everything will become rather dribble ridden.

Treasure basket play is a beautiful thing to observe. You should sit close to your baby but not interfere. They will explore themselves.

Ideas for items to go into a treasure basket:

Kitchen items:

  • Wooden spoon
  • Honey dipper
  • Metal spoon
  • Spaghetti measure
  • Metal colander
  • Sieve/ tea strainer
  • Pastry brush
  • Jars/tins



Bathroom orientated items (the Body Shop will become your best friend)

  • Nail brush
  • Wooden massager
  • back brush
  • Hair rollers
  • Loofah

 Nature inspired items

  • Natural sponge
  • Pumice stone
  • Shells (large)
  • Pine cone
  • Leaves (once cleaned and only for one use)
  • Lemon/orange/ other fruits & veg
  • Conker worms or rings. (Make holes in confers and clean out throughly and then thread so they are securely tied together. Only for a couple of uses)

Other items: 

  • Squares of fabric (sewn around the sides to stop fraying)
  • Musical instruments such as bells
  • Wooden spools
  • Pom poms

Cardboard items: (will need to be replaced often)

  • egg boxes,
  • kitchen roll tubes
  • little boxes

The lists are endless, hopefully you already have plenty of objects you could use. The harder bit maybe sourcing a basket, but there are plenty online. Good luck in your search and enjoy!

If you are looking for a ready filled treasure basket we came across the lovely ‘SylvieSenses‘. Lucinda sells treasure baskets in her Etsy shop. They are packed full of items and make a perfect present.



Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks –

© pocketnannies 2015


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