Heuristic Play

Sometimes referred to as heuristic toys or un-toys, everyday items are free, readily available and provide your baby with an ever changing assortment of  ‘toys’ to enjoy. Their environmental impact is little, as they’re things you already have at home, and they provide a rich sensory experience for your baby to discover.

To make you own treasure basket, take a box or basket which is large enough to hold a few items but shallow enough for your baby to be able to reach inside and chose which objects they’d like to look at.

Gather some items from around the home to fill the basket. As with any kind of play, safety comes first so make sure you’re happy for your baby to handle all the items you choose. You should always sit alongside your baby as they play so you’ll be able to supervise all their exploring, so find a balance between things which are safe and also interesting. You know your baby best so use your discretion in picking items which you know they will enjoy.

Try to include lots of different textures in the items you put in the treasure basket. Some things you might like to include:

Metal: measuring spoons, colander, whisk, large keys, jar lids, tea strainer, sauce pan, bells tied on a string

Natural materials: wooden spoons, bowls and blocks, sponges, large shells, fir cones, twig spheres, woolen pompoms, large pebbles, whole fruits and vegetables

Fabric: scarves and pieces of material including knitted items, cotton, silk, velvet, leather, chiffon, terry, fur

Sit alongside your baby and let them explore. Observe as they pass items from one hand to another, turn them over, put one inside another. You can chat as you look at the items but the key idea here is to let your baby explore the items their way, rather than you having to ‘teach’ them about the objects.