I recently found The Imagination Tree blog via Pinterest. It has loads of wonderful ideas for sensory and heuristic play. I instantly loved her idea for Treasure Baskets. You fill a basket with every day items from around your home or outside. Items such as...different fabrics, wooden objects, kitchen utensils (safe for baby of course!), pine cones, ribbon, sea shells, beaded necklaces, etc. The idea is to find objects that are safe for your little one to explore. Items with different colors, textures, and patterns that will peak their curiosity and interest. The concept behind this is known as Heuristic Play. If you want to learn more about Heuristic play check out this post from Little Acorns To Might Oaks.
I knew this idea would be a huge hit with Luke. He has a basket filled with various rattles, blocks, and other baby toys that he loves. He sits next to it, takes one toy out at a time, looks it over, shakes it, chews on it, then tosses it aside and proceeds to the next toy.
These are a few of the things I put into Luke's "treasure basket"...
piece of scratchy velcro
brightly colored chunky necklaces
empty thread spools on a shoe lace
2 wooden hearts and a car
large sea shell
3 clothes pins
large metal kitchen spoon
All of these are objects we have either found in our home or on a nature walk. No cost whatsoever!
(Don't forget to make sure when choosing items for your basket, that they are age appropriate and safe for your little one. I would also suggest supervising them while they play with their basket to make sure nothing gets lodged anywhere!)
Luke's favorite part of it all...
After a while I put the basket away. I pull it out once a day and allow the boys to play with it. Jack discovers new ways to play with the items each time. Luke watches him very closely and often tries to mimic Jack. I switch out half of the items every few days to keep them interested and excited. I may even try to do a few "themed" treasure baskets in the future. It has been a wonderful way for the boys to discover and learn to be more creative in their play.