I have over 20 years’ experience working with early years and families. Treasure Baskets have played a huge part in this as they benefit children while supporting their learning and development from birth. I am keen to continue this support and pass on my experience. Treasure Baskets have been used for many years by childcare professionals to support young babies learning and development. Treasure Baskets support young babies learning, development and curiosity through touch, taste sound and visual stimulation. It’s a brilliant idea that works to stimulate and inspire exploration and discovery through multi-sensory learning. This enables them to learn, develop and build confidence through the decisions they make. Unlike brightly coloured toys with limited use, Treasure Baskets provide a selection of items encouraging exploration, thinking skills, problem solving, choice, language development, motor skills, capacity and …… When baby shows an interest in something in particular, for example sound, then it’s simple to add more items that support this interest. A plastic bottle with rice or pasta inside for example becomes a shaker and it won’t break the bank to make. A length of metal chain sounds great rattled on a metal bowl. I wooden spoon to bang on a metal pan or a treasure basket. The brilliant thing about Treasure Baskets is they support the baby/child to be in control of their learning and make decisions about their own play. The Montessori teaching method is based on learning through multi-sensory experience and it is proven that children benefit from learning in this way. Originally developed in Italy the Montessori theory is now practiced in schools across the UK. The UK Governments Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum has acknowledged Montessori’s approach which is at the centre of its view on the way children learn.
Babies of all ages can appreciate the Treasure Basket experience offering sensory stimulation as long as it contains age appropriate items, by this I mean age appropriate for baby’s developmental age. For example, you might not think to give a whisk to your baby, however there are many benefits to this as metal feels different to wood, the shape is good to explore, if baby bangs it on the basket it vibrates, bang it on a metal pan and it makes a sound that is different to banging it on a basket, add a piece of ribbon and watch baby wave it around like a flag, put shells inside and it becomes a shaker, when they are ready you can support descriptive language development, it feels cold, it vibrates, makes different sounds etc. Lots to discover and find out about. Babies from birth rely on all their senses to find out about the world around them. In the beginning the familiar smell of their parents is most important, helping them feel safe and secure and giving them a base from which to explore further. From birth babies are ready and keen to learn, and explore. A Treasure basket from birth might contain black and white materials to support vision and focus. Young babies can only focus the distance between mum’s breast and her face, anything beyond that is blurred. I guess that this is nature’s clever way of protecting baby from too much information too soon. You might have noticed that babies tend to stare up at bright lights against a dark ceiling or the light coming in from a window against a darker coloured wall. Black and white patterns are key at this time. This process helps them to gain focus and strengthen their eyes enabling them to see more clearly when they need to.
From 3 months baby will love watching and listening to shakers, bells, keys, different containers filled with anything that makes a noise (dried rice, pasta, beads) all the better if it can roll across the floor at tummy time. When baby is sitting around 8 months they will love different materials that they can pick up and manipulate themselves, such as a loofah or a whisk they can bang against a metal pan or basket, or a length of chain that makes a jiggling/clanking sound when knocked against the sides of a metal dish. All of this is exploration and they are discovering what they like best while they are in control of their own learning. Sounds and noises are great for supporting those listening skills…important for learning.
The benefits of Treasure Baskets by far outweigh that of expensive brightly coloured toys. However, because of the contents it is advised to supervise Treasure Basket exploration and to check the contents regularly.
The Treasure Basket experience:
For younger babies from birth
- float the scarf over their face, feet, hands, body (Watch their response to see what they prefer)
- show them the black and white patterns (watch as they follow with their eyes)
- stroke their hands, face and feet with the pom pom, scarf, flannel
- shake the shaker and watch as they respond to the sound
- crinkle the sliver sheet watch their response
Babies from 8 month
- The basket should stay firm and not tip, ideally with straight sides
- Place the basket close to your baby so that they can reach the items inside
- Let baby explore for themselves, there is no need to interact unless baby indicates that they want you to
- Sit close by for when they need help…especially when they get older and want to know the names of the different textures, smells, sounds and items
- Alternate and change the contents of the basket adding a new interest if needed
- It is important to check the basket and contents regularly to ensure that they are intact, clean and safe for baby to play with.
The contents of the Treasure Basket should offer a variety of items to stimulate sensory
experiences, including different textures, shapes, and materials. Brushes, duck, silver sheet, wooden spoon, pine cone, metal dish, length of chain, ribbon, woolen pom pom.
You could include different or themed items. Kitchen items can include a wooden spoon, a pastry brush, an old pan, a wooden spatula, whisk, clear bottles or jars containing rice, pasta, raisins or dried pulses (Tape the top for safety) different contents make different sounds (Supporting listening skills)
The outdoor environment is full of magical textures to explore. Pine cones, leaves, pebbles, shells, branches. This is popular from 8 months and children aged 4/5 years enjoy this experience.
Food is great to add to Treasure Baskets, it has different textures smells, taste and colour. (What you add depends on their age) Babies and children love to sort by putting things inside containers. Add different containers to the basket.
A soft basket is great for those younger babies including a scarf, woolen pom pom, sliver sheet, flannel, soft toy,
different materials, and a soft sponge. Brush the different textures against their hands, cheeks, and tummy and watch how they respond.
Treasure Baskets for older children might contain items for role play, such as a tea set, cars, dinosaurs, tools, and play people.
Children who like noise/sounds might enjoy shakers, a bunch of keys, containers with contents (rice, pasta, beads) bells, pans with spoons and whisks, shells to rattle inside containers, musical instruments, anything that makes noise.
As they get older children enjoy colours, you could put together a basket of items that are the same colour. They enjoy putting things together, try pans with lids, containers with lids, cups that fit inside each other or stack up
Just a few ideas for you to think about. Follow your child’s lead and interests and you can’t go wrong. Sensory Treasures tailor to your baby’s/child’s interest.
Wooden tags available from http://www.stamp-press.com/designers-katie-loyd
Carol Loyd - Sensory Treasures
Sensory Treasures provide a selection of baskets with a variety of contents. The contents can be tailored to baby’s interest and age. Orders can start with a Treasure Basket hamper at birth that it can be added to from the beginning, then again at 3 months as baby develops. Subscriptions package available over a year. The young baby pack is available in a drawstring bag or a basket.
Available from Sensory Treasures-contact us for more information.
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