The best kind of play is where the child takes the lead and follows whatever is interesting at that moment. We can support that voyage of discovery by setting up a treasure box of interesting things a baby or toddler can choose to explore. This allows children to:
- Explore & discover using all their senses
- Make choices & develop preferences about what they want to discover
- Concentrate on what they are interested in and learn to be careful with things
- Develop hand-eye co-ordination and physical control as they manipulate objects to explore them.
All you need are old baskets (or boxes or bags for older toddlers) and a variety of everyday objects – all cleaned and ready to be mouthed, of course! For the child, everything is new and extraordinary. You can put 5-6 things in at a time – too many treasures can be overwhelming.
All you do is:
- Put some objects in a basket
- Give the child time to explore them using all the senses – without interruption
- Sit quietly and observe what the child is interested in
- Arrange the objects together with the child
- Use the objects to talk to the child, maybe tell stories
You could organise your basket to explore the different senses, for example:
- Touch basket – fir cones, shells, feathers, sponge, hairbrush, corks
- Sound basket – bunch of keys, lids, spoons, jewellery, chimes, dry pasta, little boxes of rice
- Smell bag – small bags of spices, herbs, soaps, lemons, candles, lavender bags, leather