A Treasure Basket is a shallow, sturdy basket containing a selection of everyday objects. It gives each child the opportunity to explore using their senses to discover what the object is, what it is like and perhaps what it does when shaken or manipulated. It is a simple, fun and very effective way of enriching the early experiences of children with sight problems and it is also an inexpensive resource that parents can create easily at home.
When choosing the items for the basket, you should take into consideration the weight, size, texture, colour, taste, temperature, sound etc. Children learn by exploration and experience, therefore Treasure Baskets are a fun way of learning using a direct hands-on sensory experience in giving each child the opportunity to use their hands, fingers, feet, mouth and also smell to learn about each object.
Talking to your child about each object also encourages listening and language skills, along with encouraging curiosity… Does it smell? Does it make a noise? Is it hard? Is it soft? Can you taste it? What happens if I bang them together? Can you put it inside another object? It also helps each child to become aware of weight, texture and size. Remember, all children are individual’s and develop and progress at their own rate.
Maximising Play Opportunities
- Lighting – Best lighting for each individual child ie not affected by glare. Does your child prefer natural lighting, artificial lighting or does your child prefer a duller environment.
- Positioning - Does your child prefer to sit, having the basket at the front or at the side of them? Does your child prefer the basket to be touching them to make it easier for them to locate and to make it easier to return and find more objects?
- Contrast – Does it make it easier for your child to see the object against a good contrasting background ie plain rug/quilt/cover?
- Time – Give your child time to explore each object.
- Join in – If you feel your child is having difficulty in locating objects that have fallen, assist them by gently holding their elbow and guide them towards them object. This helps them to understand ‘cause and affect’ and that when an object has fallen it can be nearby, encouraging them to search. Talk to your child about each object about how it feels, smells, tastes, size, weight etc. Also allow your child to have time themselves to explore the object, supervising nearby.
- Gradual – Begin with a couple of object and gradually add more. But not too many, that it becomes overwhelming or too much! Observe your child to discover if there are particular textures that they do not like, if they prefer more or less object at a time, if them become bored with the object and require a new variety.
Safety When choosing a basket you should take into consideration the points below:
- Choose a basket that is strong and durable to allow for leaning on without it tipping over.
- Check for jagged edges. If so, do not use.
- Check the basket regularly to make sure it is still safe to use, along with the contents.
- Objects should be washable and replaceable. Clean objects regularly and dispose of if broken.
- If using painted or varnished object, check that they are non-toxic. Do not use if you have any doubt.
Ideas of objects to use
Wooden Small boxes Cylinder Napkin rings Clothes pegs Curtain rings
Metal Bunch of keys Metal beaker Brass curtain rings Small tins Spoon Tea strainer Small egg whisk
Natural Fir cones Orange Lemon Large feather Natural loofah Shells