When my daughter was a baby, I thoroughly enjoyed creating a treasure basket for her to explore. I collected items from around the house and put them into a basket so that she could play with them. I would only change the theme of the basket when she seemed to grow tired of the current one, and her interest in a particular basket could last from one week to a month! I started creating treasure baskets when she was around four months old. At first, it was a great incentive for her to practice tummy time for longer periods. Once she could sit up, it was much easier for her to see, touch, and mouth the various objects. Now that she’s a toddler, I use them more as language baskets to learn and practice new vocabulary. So grab a basket and pick one of these ideas to create an opportunity for your baby or toddler to explore everyday objects from around your home!
Color Treasure Basket
Color-themed treasure baskets were my favorite to assemble. I chose one color at a time and collected items of that color to put into the basket. My baby loved these, and each color often engaged her interest for at least two weeks. It took a little more than two months to get through all the colors.
Kitchen Utensil Treasure Basket
A kitchen utensil treasure basket is one of the easiest to put together. Simply collect a few kitchen utensils at a time such as whisks, spatulas, tongs, basting brushes, or whatever items might be in your kitchen drawers that would be fun and safe for your baby to explore. Don’t forget to name and talk about each item…babies understand far more than we think they do! As with any treasure basket, only do a few items at a time so as not to overstimulate your baby. Once he or she grows bored of it, you can switch out the items for new ones.
Fabric Textures Treasure Basket
Collect small pieces of fabric from around your house that are of different textures. Babies love tactile experiences, and textured fabric is a perfect for this. Another take on this basket is to buy these textured beanbag squares from Educational Insights. Add only a few squares at a time for your baby to explore. As your baby grows into a young toddler, you can use the squares as a matching activity, since there’s two of each. Next, you can use them in a blindfolded matching activity.
Metal Treasure Basket
Metal is an interesting texture that babies love to explore, plus it makes a fun sound! Collect different, clean metal items such as a spoon, blender ball, and lock that are safe for your baby to mouth and bang on different surfaces.
Grooming Tools Treasure Basket
Adding various, clean grooming items such as a baby comb, baby brush, nasal aspirator bulb syringe, baby pocket mirror, and thermometer, is a fun treasure basket for your baby to explore different shapes and textures and build new vocabulary.
Animal Figurines Treasure Basket
Add a few large animal figurines to a basket in order to introduce your baby or toddler to different animals. I love the Schleich and Safari Ltd brands for their realistic-looking figurines. When your toddler is ready, you can take pictures of each figurine to make laminated cards. Your toddler can then have fun matching the animal to its picture!
Phonics Treasure Baskets
The idea of a treasure basket can grow well into preschool and kindergarten. For example, you can collect items that all start with the letter “B” or items that rhyme with “cat.” Everyday items can work for this, but figurines might be easier to use for more complicated themes such as word families.
For more sensory experience ideas, check out this sensory bin post!