Treasure baskets & heuristic play

Nathan’s Mumma Says….

When Nathan was born I had never heard of treasure baskets/discovery boxes or heuristic/sensory play. I quickly learnt that babies satisfy their need to explore the world through sensory play, and it aids their cognitive development. With heuristic play they can touch, suck, lick (all items should be suitable for this as its their best way of understanding and learning), bang, drop and pick up all manner of objects to answer the question of “what does this do?”

When the lovely lady at our mummy and baby group introduced us to sensory toys we were hooked. Our group had both the shop bought sensory toys and the ones you can make yourself, Marcia (the lovely lady) even showed us how to make the various items. Nathan was fascinated with all the colours, shapes and textures that were introduced to him. He also had regular toys, but you would be surprised how many have their origins in sensory play, Nathan particularly loved his lamaze toys (activity puzzle, peacock, moose, octopus, foot-finders, and monkey), wooden shapes puzzle, his mamas and papas activity tray & baby snug, and his taggy blanket.

So when my cousin announced she was expecting it didn’t take me long to decide upon putting together a discovery basket for the baby. I wanted to give him a present that was different to the usual gifts of clothes and baby toys, footprint kits & photo frames (although the box does include some of these things too). I began researching the best items to create or buy. There really are no limits, apart from baby safety, for discovery boxes. But ever the pinterest addict I got online and began my quest…images (2)

I picked the tummy-time finger painting, 3 discovery bottles (rattle, oil & water and floating sparkles) and a rainbow ribbon hoop to make. I then added the sensory toys that were Nathan’s favourites (new ones obviously) a wooden spoon, a bottle of bubbles and a shower loafer. You could also add things like:

  • Large shells
  • Metal balloon whisk
  • Furry fabric
  • Zips
  • Hairbrush
  • Pinecones
  • Plastic animals

I also read that babies see in black and white, or high contrasting colours, best, so Nathan and I chose a jellycat bunny for the new arrival. We also chose some more stereotypical gifts… a wooden animal puzzle from, a sensory ball from, The Day-by-Day Baby Book, clothes and a personalised blanket knitted by my lovely and very talented friend Ellie’s Mumma at Crafty Claire’s Creations.

I have then thrown in a bottle of oilatum bath as we find this is better than other baby bath products and there is a family history of eczema. There is also a small stash of disposable nappies in there, just incase they get caught out whilst washing the reuseable ones they have. It’s all labelled up with what each thing is, how to use it and what areas of development it assists. I can’t wait to give it to him, a box full of exciting things and lots of love too.

For more information on heuristic play and the toys to use/make you can visit websites such as:

I enjoyed these books on the subject:

Developing Play for the Under 3s: The Treasure Basket and Heuristic Play

The Little Book of Treasure Baskets: Little Books with Big Ideas (Little Books)

150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids: The Very Best and Easiest Playtime Activities from!

The Artful Year: Over 175 Family- Friendly Activities: Celebrating the Seasons and Holidays with Crafts and Recipes

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2 thoughts on “Treasure baskets & heuristic play

  1. Pingback: Keepsakes – because they grow up too fast | Mumma Says

  2. Pingback: Down at the bottom of the garden…. | Mumma Says

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