A ‘treasure’ basket offers baby a small collection of items to select and explore freely. It might include household items or things from nature with a range of shapes, colours and textures for baby to discover.
Exploring and discovering
This ‘discovery’ play is linked to ‘heuristic’ play, which means baby is exploring and finding out about the world using their senses, and is free to choose what and how they’ll investigate.
Ask the whānau:
- What have you and baby been enjoying playing with lately?
- What is baby interested in?
- Have you noticed how they’re discovering and exploring their play things?
A treasure basket is especially suitable for babies that aren’t yet mobile and are content to sit with their treasure basket in front of them and follow their natural curiosity to explore.
It doesn’t have to be a basket, just something to keep the items together in — like a little box or tray.
Safe items for baby’s treasure basket
At first baby will explore the objects to find out about them. After that, baby will see what they can do with them.
- Do you have some things around the house that might be suitable for baby’s treasure basket?
- Are they safe (that is, hygienic, too big to swallow, no sharp edges)?
- Because we know they’ll want to put everything in their mouth, what do you think is a safe size for baby?
If an item could fit inside a paper towel tube, it’s too small for baby. As their hand–eye coordination develops more, give baby items that offer more challenge — for example, containers that fit inside each other or blocks that can be stacked.
In the SKIP Whakatipu booklet Te Pihinga 2 (page 5), whānau say:
‘We notice the types of toys pēpi likes to play with. We try and make our own with simple things from around the house.
Pēpi likes to explore different colours, shapes and textures, and is interested in different sounds he can make.’
Making the treasure basket
Collect 4 or 5 items, put them inside a container and watch what baby does with them. Examples include wooden spoons, other spoons, small containers, a piece of sponge, fake fur, a large smooth shell, driftwood, pinecones, a napkin ring or suitable ornaments.
Enjoying the basket with baby
Encourage mum and dad to talk about what baby is doing. Are they looking, touching, sucking, licking, banging, picking up and dropping?
The contents of the treasure basket can change over time. For example, a large smooth stone might be very interesting for a while, then ignored as baby has found out all they need to know about.
It’s important to supervise baby when they’re playing with the treasure basket, especially if there are other siblings who might want to explore the items in different and possibly ‘unsafe’ ways.
How does this relate to the SKIP resources?
Baby Wall Frieze – Homai ngā mea hei tākaro māku - give me things to play with
Six things children need - Te ārahi me te māramatanga - guidance and understanding