Treasure basket

6. Treasure Basket

It’s a well-worn idea among most parents that you give a child a toy, and they are often more interested in the box it came in, and the wrapping, than the toy itself. Why should this be so?

The allure of the box is in the impulse to discover. Opening a lid, delving in, feeling around for what’s inside, finding new textures and sensations – these are the things that drive the inquisitive young adventurer. Understanding the world around them is infinitely more fascinating to them than the car with the flashing lights they just pulled out of the box.

The idea of nurturing this fascination with the properties of an object, was given legs in child development circles by the pioneering British child development expert, Elinor Goldschmeid. She conceived the ‘treasure basket’ after watching how parents instinctively provided their babies with things to play with and investigate (who hasn’t given their kids a saucepan and a wooden spoon to bash it with, or watched in wonder as they pour water in and out of a cup for hours?)

A treasure box is a simple, quick and entirely free way to delight your kids at home. It’s especially fun for babies who can sit up, supported by a cushion or ring, but aren’t yet mobile. But it’s also great for older kids too – you just adapt the contents to suit them. You can use everyday objects from home, such as wooden spoons and fruit and fabrics. You can also mix them up with the toys you already have.

Alexis says:

Try to include something from all the main groups of materials such as wood, metal, textiles and fur, as well as naturally occurring objects like shells or vegetables.

Treasure Basket Ideas

  • Bathroom loofah
  • Toothbrush
  • Wooden spoon
  • Egg whisk
  • Small teddy or rag doll
  • Tennis ball
  • Large shell
  • Nail brush
  • Clothes pegs
  • Bunch of keys
  • Leather purse
  • Rubber bath plug with chain


Be sure to avoid anything that might present a choking hazard or contain harmful chemicals.

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