At GRASP + GATHER we believe that babies learn best when they are free to explore at their own pace. We are dedicated to creating products that provide hands on sensory experiences and a rich environment for learning.
A World of Discovery
Our treasure baskets are filled with a variety of unique objects to stimulate the senses and introduce babies and toddlers to the wonders of the natural world around them.
Treasure baskets have a long tradition with childcare professionals. They are particularly known through the Montessori teaching method and are becoming increasingly popular for use at home.
The concept of the treasure basket was developed by childcare pioneer Elinor Goldschmied. They are designed to facilitate learning in babies and toddlers through play that provides a rich sensory experience and encourages freedom, independence, courage and concentration.
In its physical form, a treasure basket it is low sided basket filled with a variety of natural and everyday household objects designed to be explored by a baby without any interference.
The different objects can be made from a range of materials that provide a full sensory experience, engaging all of the baby’s senses, through providing different textures, sounds, tastes, weights, colours and more.
It is through grasping and exploring the range of objects that a baby learns about the world around them and allows them to start making their own decisions, promotes self-esteem and develops fine motor skills.
The role of the adult is an important one. Ideally you should allow your baby to explore independently without intervening unless you feel they need attention or if something they are doing is not safe.
If possible, try not make suggestions or praise your baby. Instead, sit close by, enjoy watching them discover the contents and be there for them in case they require your attention or support.
It is best if the treasure basket is in an area free from other distractions, so, have the TV turned off and make sure older siblings are not taking your baby’s attention (or trying to ‘borrow’ items from the treasure basket).
Timing is also important, ensure to choose a time of day when your baby is alert and comfortable (well fed and not tired) as this will ensure they are able to truly concentrate and get the most from their session.
Please note that it is important never to leave a baby alone with a treasure basket as the contents themselves are not designed as toys. Although we take care to select items that do not pose a hazard, as babies handle items and put things in their mouth it is important to regularly check the contents of the basket.
A regular inspection should include making sure that there are no parts that might have developed sharp edges, or broken off into a smaller piece, or become damaged in another way. It is also good to occasionally wash or wipe any objects to keep them clean.
A treasure basket is best not left out all day for your baby to play with as this could lead to them being uninterested with the objects. Instead, aim to allow your baby to explore the contents only once a day at most when they are well fed and rested so they will get the most out of the activity.
All treasure baskets can be continually added to and edited, and collecting new items can be great fun. Once you start looking you will spot new things everywhere you go – from driftwood on the beach to pinecones in the park. Each treasure basket is unique in the objects it includes and can even become a collection of memories over time.
As well as including new items, it is possible to rotate items if you feel there are some things your baby may be getting less interested in. Try taking out a few objects and adding them in again in a few days or even weeks’ time and they may just seem more exciting again after a break.
The objects we choose to include in our baskets are all natural as these provide some of the most unique and stimulating sensory experiences for babies. However, there are a whole host of everyday household items that can also add to the variety of different textures, weights, colours and smells included. These objects can be constantly added to your basket and rotated to keep provided new opportunities for your baby to explore.
Some of our favourite everyday items that can supplement the natural objects in our baskets include:
Spoons (both wooden and metal)
Tea strainers / sieves
Measuring spoon sets
It can be great fun looking out for new objects to add whether from around the home or finding when you are out and about.
A note on safety
Please be aware that as with natural objects, every day and household objects are not designed as toys and are therefore not suitable for babies and children without adult supervision. They should also be maintained in the same way as the natural objects – regularly inspected to ensure they pose no hazards to your baby.