The benefit of offering treasure baskets and sensory play to babies.
I love everything about Montessori but one aspect of its current interpretation is the consumerism it encourages. Deciding to create a Montessori home should not cost a small fortune and require masses of materials because Montessori is not defined by the materials but rather by simplicity and a sense purposeful play.
This is where treasure baskets come in! Treasure baskets are collections of themed objects that you have around the home which provide children with the opportunity for sensory play, (sensory play being anything that engages one of the five senses).
“Everything we know about the world has come through the senses.”
Treasure baskets are best introduced between 6 and 12 months and can be enjoyed by children of any age. The best ones follow these guide lines.
- Simple – an item that doesn’t ‘do’ anything will encourage a child to do something with it.
- Open ended – an item out of context will let children to explore it and use it in a new way, of course for babies nearly all items are ‘open ended’.
- Flexible – items that can be held in numerous ways and offer a variety of textures
- Relevance – a treasure basket should reflect a child’s environment and their own unique interests.
“A well stocked basket with carefully selected objects can give babies the opportunity to explore those things that make up their world.”
Here are some of the baskets we used between 6 and 8 months.
This was the most popular basket we had. Alfie loved rooting through the scarves to find the hidden balls. I hid some jingle bells in there too which he loved digging out. He spent so much time emptying this box, investigating it and filling it back up.
This was one of our ‘Spanish’ activities, I told Alfie all about el arco iris, los pañuelos y las pelotas while he investigated them. As the language was reasonably simple and repetitive (colours, roll, catch, throw, where is…?) this was suitable bilingual activity for Fred who doesn’t speak any Spanish.
This metal basket was embarrassingly mostly made of my cocktail supplies! Still plenty of entertainment and lots of tactile/thermal fun with this one too, plenty of banging which seemed to be a bonus for baby but not for Mummy.
These were two baskets I provided for Alfie to use while I had some gardening work to do. I wanted to involve him in our work but didn’t feel ready to run the risk of botulism. The leaves were basil, dill and bay giving him plenty of distinvie smells, tastes and textures. The baskets are natural ‘garden’ materials too to fully incorporate our theme.
This basket is always a hit. While I prep dinner I provide Alfie with a small selection of that evening’s ingredients (starting with the raw meat!) It changes depending on what we are cooking or what we have in the fridge that is safe to play with but usually contains a mix of fresh fruit and vegetables and some packets of food. Dinner time can be tricky as Fred has usually just arrived in and Alfie usually goes from tired to hyper in 2 seconds, having some focus keeps him on an even keel.
You can check out next set of baskets here.
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If you have some time and are interested in reading more about the importance of treasure baskets you’ll find a fantastic article here.