On the ninth day of Christmas, our resident expert Sarah brings us heuristic play and treasure baskets! These involve playing with different natural objects rather than what we like to call, ‘plastic fantastic’ toys.

Treasure baskets are usually used for babies who are not yet mobile, while heuristic play tends to be for more mobile children. Children explore the natural objects using all of their senses.

Collect items for your treasure baskets

At Spring by Action for Children, and Grow by Action for Children, our parenting programmes, we use natural resources across all of our age groups for play. Natural resources help babies and children learn about textures, develop and extend vocabulary like rough and smooth, they can smell resources, feel them, lift them, lick them … any way they can experience their world and what it means to them.

Children should always be supervised, don’t include items babies could choke on in their treasure baskets as they should be safe to explore, feel and use the objects as they want to. Your role is mainly to supervise.

Use natural and household objects that you might have around, so combine pine cones, shells, wooden spoons, pegs, blocks, stones, dried flowers, scarves and other items.

Benefits for your babies and children includes:

  • Treasure baskets and heuristic play are engaging and exciting for children so this type of play can encourage concentration and engagement for longer periods of time
  • Exploring different objects develops children’s senses
  • There are also opportunities for mathematical learning learning through shape, size, colour and pattern.

As ever make sure you ask any questions on our social media pages and we would be happy to answer them, if you find some great ideas for natural play please share them with fellow parents on our Facebook page.