Course Sample 

Turning Little Stones - Baskets of Treasure Sample Podcast 

Treasure Basket Sessions 

In this podcast, Lauren explains how she began her journey with Heuristic Play, which developed as she saw her three children responding to and benefiting from Treasure Basket sessions. 
Previously, she had attended traditional toddler groups, “noisy places. I spent more time speaking with other parents, rather than focusing on my own child”. 
By contrast, Baskets of Treasure sessions were peaceful, and calm allowing her space to notice important things in her own children. 

About Lauren 

As Lauren saw her three children benefitting from heuristic play and baskets of treasures, she went on to develop them at home. 
The impact changed her as a parent, and she went on to train in early years. She now works part-time at the same setting her children attended. 

What is Heuristic Play? 

Derived from Greek, heuristic means ‘to discover’ or understand something through hands-on experience. Lauren explains how valuable Baskets of Treasure are in helping our youngest children make sense of their world through hands-on discovery. They satisfy their curiosity and build foundations for lifelong learners. 

Learning through the Senses 

Babies absorb through their senses even before they are born. 
After their birth, the newborn baby begins to see, hear, taste, smell and feel their immediate environment. From birth, they begin to make SENSE of their world – through their senses. 

Babies Discoveries 

When a baby’s senses are stimulated, they use these sensory impressions to piece their world together. They are curious, and eager to make discoveries. Everything is new for them, and everyday objects hold real appeal for them. Lauren explains that babies typically place things in their mouths. 

Feeding their Development 

Take a toothbrush (something that typically may be in the Basket of Treasure). As they explore this new object by holding it and placing it in their mouth for the first time, they may react, make a face and take it out. 
Their brain however is processing everything, making connections as they piece together everything about this object. As they continue to explore the toothbrush, they may bring it back to their mouth and learn more about it, its textures and how it feels in their mouth. This information feeds into their whole development. 
Later, when the toddler has teeth and the toothbrush reappears, with the function of cleaning their teeth, our toddler will know what it is. Too little or too much. 

Too much or too little? 

As carers, we want to support our child’s development but all too often (quite unknowingly) we either limit or overwhelm what their senses can experience – usually both! 

Too Much 

Too much is when our infant’s senses are overwhelmed by a cacophony of colourful, sparkly, moving visuals and unrelenting sounds making their world permanently busy and noisy. 
When their senses become overstimulated, our children tune out and it is harder for them to make SENSE of their colour-filled, sound-filled world. 

Too Little 

Too little is when we limit what they can experience through their senses. We might make sure a comforter is always in their mouth or we may tuck their arms, feet and ears inside cosy sleep suits strap them in car seats. 
When we do this too often, we are in effect depriving them of the chance to make SENSE of their world by exploring their surroundings with their mouth, hands, feet and ears. 
What is it? 
This is the dominant question all babies are asking. To them, the world is completely new! 
Baskets of Treasure provide them with the opportunity to satisfy their curiosity in an unhurried way. If we limit what we allow our babies to explore, we are preventing them from answering this vital question. 
Heuristic baskets of treasures help infants to discover more about an object in their quest to discover more about everyday objects – WHAT IS IT? 

When do I introduce my child to Baskets of Treasures? 

They are intended for babies who can sit with little support and before they are ‘on the move’ (typically 5 to 10 months). After this, toddlers move more freely and have other questions to ask – the subject of other podcasts to come. 
You can buy Treasure Baskets commercially, or you can make your own, which is what Lauren did to prepare for the podcast. 

How do I make Baskets of Treasure? 

The basket itself is usually circular, sturdy and about 25 to 30 cm in diameter. It should have low sides allowing babies to see inside and reach in with ease. It should be full and adapted slightly for each time. 
A neutral-coloured mat, which defines session and is only used for heuristic play activities. It can be used as a cover keeping the objects clean for next time. 
Filling it is fun and up to you. It is however important to include natural objects. 
Here are some ideas to begin with (This is by no means exhaustive!): 

Bristly things 

Bristly things: shaving brush, nail brush, hairbrush, pastry brush, toothbrush… 

Things that contain other things 

A glasses case, purse, pencil case, empty spice jar, wooden tooth brush holder… 

Noisy things 

Bells, gyros, metal chains, keys, pan lids, upturned beakers… 

Shakeable things 

Egg shakers, securely sealed small bottles/jars containing rice, couscous, sand, gravel, shells, curtain rings… 

Soft things 

Purse, scrunchie, pompoms, chiffon scarf, woolly glove… 

Scented things 

Lavender bag, a fresh orange or lemon, cinnamon stick… 

Found treasures 

Shells, pebbles, avocado stone, pinecones, coconut shell, loofah… 

Kitchen things 

Whisk, spoons, ladles, tea strainer, wooden spoon, pastry cutters… 

Dangling things 

Ribbons, scarves, plug and chain, small belt, tie… 

Safety & Hygiene 

Children should NEVER be left alone with a Basket of Treasure. Carers will be able to see first-hand if there is something that is unsafe. 
The objects should be routinely checked to make sure that items have not deteriorated. Some treasures, such as decorated boxes or shakers may over time lose small beads and sequins, wicker strips may break, wooden objects may splinter after cleaning etc.  
Allergies must always be checked. 
A Lifelong Learning Habit 
Lauren tells us how she learnt to be less risk averse over time. Initially, she saw things in the basket that she would not have included. But as she saw other children exploring these items safely, she began to relax. 
One benefit is that as babies place things in their mouth, they may involuntarily gag slightly. She has learnt to relax and appreciate that this is an important skill for children to practise and develop their gagging reflex in a safe and controlled environment. 
Baskets of Treasures feed a lifelong learning habit. 

What's Next? 

Take a couple of weeks to buy and source materials for your own Basket of Treasure. We advise listeners to listen to the upcoming episode on how to introduce it to your child before sharing it with your children. Themed heuristic play sets for the older child (to be discussed in a later podcast) 

Further Info 

Further information, practical guidance & advice are available through: 
Turning Little Stones | Delving a little Deeper 
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