Treasure Basket

Lately I've been considering... pondering... wondering...

How do I meld my deep interest and understanding of enhancing young children's learning through play {during my role as an early childhood educator} with my new found responsibility of guiding and facilitating Sage's development and enriching her exploration of the world?

After 5 years of teaching, I have some experience and knowledge surrounding the play needs of Kindergarten aged children (4 - 5 year olds) but when it comes to babies at play - I felt a little clueless!

Now that Sage is confidently sitting up, she is increasingly eager to investigate everything in her close proximity, whether it be within, or just out of reach.

This has led me to question - what can I offer her that will engage and fascinate her mind? how can I demonstrate that I have belief in her capabilities? what can I present to her in order to heighten her sensory development? how can I reveal to her that I attempt to see the world through her eyes? how can I acknowledge her need for independence and value her desire to make decisions and choices?

Enter the notion of "heuristic play" - play involving experiencing and exploring 'real world' objects. For babies this can occur in the form of a treasure basket.

A treasure basket... doesn't it evoke such delightful connotations of curiousity and wonderment?

Ultimately the treasure basket is an incredibly simple concept; a low sided basket containing objects of multiple textures and materials from a variety of sources which can be investigated and explored by little hands.

"The predominant way that babies under the age of one discover and learn about their world is through sensory motor development. During this stage a baby's primal instinct is to explore objects by handling and mouthing them in order to find out about their physical characteristics. By using a treasure basket with children at this age you are providing them with rich mental stimulation, which not only activates the growth of the brain but also provides richly satisfying experiences for the baby.

For a Treasure Basket to be an effective tool in the play and development of babies, the most important factor is an attentive and calm caregiver, who creates a relaxed atmosphere and is available to the child during their play and exploration. The adults role in the use of the treasure basket is to sit near by and be attentive, responsive and unobtrusive - the baby needs to be able to make their own choices about which objects they are going to pick up and how they are going to explore them without interference.... A baby will have a much richer and more stimulating experience, developing confidence and concentration when they can explore at their own pace, without being 'shown' things and 'how' to use them by an adult... There is no right or wrong way for a baby to explore or use the materials." {from Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks}

Sounds a lot like Watch, Wait, Wonder doesn't it?!

Feeling very inspired, I collected up some items from around our home to introduce to Sage this afternoon, ensuring that I was mindful and deliberate in what I provided and how I would present them.

The result? ...

She adored it!

Grasping, mouthing, stroking, examining, banging, feeling, inspecting  - she had a delightful time!

Here's a sped up snapshot of a small part of the 30 minutes she spent with her basket today...

Over the coming weeks I'll add fresh objects to the basket and remove things she no longer appears interested in. I'm hoping we'll have time to share our treasures once a day and I'm truly excited to witness her choices, her development and her increasing curiousity. I'll keep you updated on our exploration!

Until then, if you would like some more inspiration head here, here or here!

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