Treasure Baskets – stimulating play for babies and toddlers


I thought I would write a quick blog about this topic as, for whatever reason, this great idea never seems to get talked about much.  I learnt about ‘treasure baskets’ whilst undertaking my degree in Early Childhood Studies.  And now that I am starting to look after my second granddaughter, Lara, one day a week I am excited about making and sharing these baskets with her, as I did with her sister.

Simply put these baskets are a group of specifically chosen natural (real world) objects collected together and presented to a child for them to safely explore (see photo above).  It is a form of heuristic play which means the child learns for themselves, without adult intervention ( unless for safety reasons). It is very cheap, can be easily changed, adapted, themed and provides wonderful stimulation for a young child.

So why bother when there are a plethora of toys on the market? If I were to challenge you to close your eyes and touch, smell and feel many of the modern toys they would probably on the whole elicit the same results..smooth, plastic, cold.  Many are excellent and certainly earn their place in the toy box. However,  the contents of a treasure basket are textured, scented, noisy, hard, heavy or light etc and are more interesting because of it. 

This week when I looked after Lara I presented her with a ‘touch’ treasure basket…she simply loved it.  She physically shook with excitement when she picked up some of the items.  Whilst she totally disregarded some things, conversely she spent absolutely ages on others ( her choice) specifically touching, tasting, scrunching and comparing grease proof paper and baking foil.  She also loved rolling, sucking, lifting and squeezing the lemon…repeatedly returning to it.  I can’t wait for next week so we can repeat the experience.  I get so much pleasure from simply observing her as she explores, frowning with concentration and then giggling with delight, all the time learning.  I am grateful to her parents who gave me kind permission to include photos of her playing with her basket so you can get the idea.

Below is an excellent book should you want more information about how to make up these baskets.  I often include it as part of my present to anyone who has just had children.

Or alternatively here is a website with more information about them


No 7 – make time in my day for the music that I like


Ok….so music!!! Having spent the day yesterday with my youngest granddaughter, who is 9 months old, it reminded me how the enjoyment in making and listening to sound seems ingrained in us.  She shook her rattles and maracas, bashed her toys like drums, clapped her hands and smacked her lips as loudly as she could for the physical and musical pleasure….pure delight to watch, listen and join in with.  I enjoyed this morning listening to the birds singing, the water gushing into the pond and now the swooshing of the dishwasher…we are surrounded by music it would seem.

However my particular aim was to make time in the day to listen to the music I like.  Having turned 50 last year my tastes are varied and have altered ( like my reading material) but my CDs, unlike my books, do not reflect that.  I mainly listen to classic FM (and Jo Wiley on Radio 2) which is a wave of calming and then rousing music but it is not always what I need.  So I have bought my portable CD player into the kitchen and have purchased some new CDs to start me off (I have also preordered Rag’n’bone mans ‘human’  album)


1. Dean Martin (this time I’m swinging) how I loved him in a western movie

2. The Best of Jools Holland – rhythm and blues at its best

3. The very best of Kirsty MacColl ( a replacement for my much listened to and scratched copy) I am an 80s girl at heart and her lyrics are phenomenal

4.  Seasick Steve – Walkin’ Man – new for me but I just love his blues sound

It has been great listening to these and brightens my day, matching the music to the task, emotion, weather etc and I have listened to lots of my other cds too rediscovering my love for Freshlygrounds’ Nomvulu album particularly.

This has also been surprisingly cheap with most of the CD’s being around £5 (much cheaper than a book).So this brings me to my issues…actual CDs versus downloads.  I enjoy the physicality of choosing a Cd from the shelf, looking at the artwork, remembering the associations, listening to it in its entirety which I just dont get from choosing on the iPod.  But…..the iPod has the Bose speakers 🔊!!  And there is the dilemma…quality of sound or quality of experience??  For travelling and the garden listening via my phone, iPod etc is brilliant…but indoors??? Maybe the answer is I need a Bose CD player for my next birthday (… oh and a record player as I so want to listen to my albums too haha).

I am already glad I wrote my list…as this music has made me happy.

A new year and a new list!!

Over the past few months I have enjoyed a respite from my hectic but very enjoyable 50@50 challenges.  I don’t intend to repeat the experience this year with 51 challenges, however I do love lists; the comfort and order they provide, ticking them off (even secretly adding things already done just to feel the pleasure of crossing them off…sad I know) and then re-writing them…Yes I confess to being a compulsive list writer.  Whilst many of my lists in the past have been no more than meaningless doodles actually writing a public ‘challenge’ list was much more motivational and not only shaped my last 12 months but shaped me too.  So I have decided to have a 12in12 year (12 challenges in 12 months) which starts today….and here is my list

  1.  Join a village club
  2. Reduce/cut out gluten
  3. go on a 3+ day walk
  4. be spontaneous
  5. Have meaningful 1:1 time with family and friends
  6. Start donating blood again
  7. make time for music in my life (listen to all types of music I like)
  8. learn to cook a decent curry from scratch
  9. dont overfill my calendar…leave free time
  10. read alternate fiction/non fiction (can be one chapter)
  11. properly catalogue the wildlife in my garden
  12. visit somewhere new

This is not a list to set the world alight with its originality but is a personal and achievable one which has developed as part of my  new 50+ Ideology (which I am not articulate enough to put into words but comes from the feeling of wanting to be the best person I can be). So wish me luck and hopefully there will be lots of ticking off ✅

Happy New Year to you all