Sensory Play with Sensory Bottles and Treasure Baskets
One of the best ways to encourage sensory play at your home is having sensory bottles and treasure baskets full of sensory toys and real life objects for your little one to explore and manipulate. These items can be crafted and made using everyday items and are guaranteed to add fun, safe and playful ways to stimulate your baby’s senses. When babies are introduced to sensory bottles and treasure baskets, they explore and discover the items they are given. This ignites curiosity, concentration and decision-making.
What is a treasure basket? A treasure basket is a basket filled with toys and things for tactile and sensory stimulates. It was first introduced by English educationalist Elinor Goldschmied in the early 1980’s for what she called ‘heuristic play’. Heuristic play is often described as a fun activity of little children that allows them to manipulate and explore objects with a wide variety of sensory and tactile qualities. As opposed to filling the basket with plastic toys which do not offer much in the way of sensory stimulation, fill the basket with objects that infants can squeeze, hold, grasp and manipulate like a wooden toy, soft dolls and more.
Choose a basket that is soft yet sturdy and strong enough not to flip so easily when a baby leans with her elbows. While the basket itself is important for a safe play activity, what matters most is what’s inside. Since babies are the ones playing with it, make sure anything you put objects that are safe for babies and do not have detachable parts that are choking hazards. You can add in everyday items from around the home and other natural objects. Don’t forget to change the contents regularly so that your child always discovers something new.
Here are a few items to put inside your child’s treasure basket:
- Brushes like a nail brush, silicone pastry brush, hairbrush, a paintbrush, or even a washing-up brush are great additions to a sensory basket. Make sure that these brushes are clean and the bristles are secure as most toys end up in children’s mouths. You can use brushes with natural handles like ones made from non-varnished bamboo handles.
- It is no wonder that kids love to play with objects they see everyday. You can find many items that are great for sensory development in the kitchen like spatula, whisk, honey drizzler, lemon reamer, wooden spoons and even measuring cups.
- Natural objects or objects made from natural materials like a scourer made from soft coconut husks or pine cones are fantastic things you can put in your child’s treasure chests. These natural objects are fun to squish and chew and have a wide variety of textures. You can also use feathers as they are soft and tickly or use stones as they are hard and heavy. Use objects in big sizes to prevent possible choking.
- Items that stimulate a sense of smell. You can add a lot of things in the sensory basket that can add scent and extra levels of sensory exploration. Try a vanilla pod, cinnamon stick, a dried orange or lemon or a little bag of herbs. Perfect to add also a sprig of rosemary, a sea shell and a clove of garlic
- Noisy items. Try to add in a rattle, a bottle full or rice or beans or a velcro. A silver emergency blanket can also be a great addition. It could be anything that produces noise when you bang it.
Just like the treasure baskets, sensory bottles are safe to play with and easy to craft. These are ideal for moments when you need non-messy sensory play because everything is enclosed in a bottle. Now that you have a sensory bottle in mind, what you can use as a bottle can be recycled and reused after.
There are many online resources you can use for sensory bottle ideas. You might see noisy bottles filled with beads, rice or beans. Some parents even use pasta. There are also bottles where small toys and sand are found which is great for encouraging discovery. A bottle with oil and water is fascinating too especially if you add in different colors.
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