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14 easy ideas for a treasure (heuristic, exploring or discovery) basket.

Are they a treasure, heuristic, exploring or discovery baskets to you?

No matter what you call them they are one of the best ways to support the senses from baby to five (and older) or thinking and conversation. Here are the ideas and better still images to inspire you.


Maybe the simplest basket to put together as you just need to gather items that are all the same colour. This basket is more a colour hue than a true colour.


Find items that are all the same shape or different shapes and you could also seriate them (from small to big). Living Montessori has a perfect collection here.


Create a basket based on a schema that a child or children are exploring there are 10 to follow or extend:

  • Trajectory - creating lines in space by climbing up and jumping down. Dropping items from up high. Throwing items.

  • Positioning or Ordering- lining items up and putting them in groups.

  • Enveloping - covering themselves or objects completely. Wrapping items up or placing them in containers.

  • Rotating - enjoys spinning items round and round. Likes to run around in circles or being swung round.

  • Enclosing - adding boundaries to play areas e.g. fences around animals. Adding borders to pictures.

  • Transporting - carrying or moving items from one place to another; carrying items in containers or bags.

  • Connecting - setting out tracks, constructing, joining items together with tape or glue.

  • Disconnecting or Deconstructing – cutting with scissors, knocking down towers, taking things apart

  • Transforming - exploring the changing states of materials, cooking, mixing colours, painting body

  • Orienteering – an interest in positioning themselves or objects in different places or positions e.g upside down or on their side.

A favourite is the enveloping schema where there is wrapping, hiding and folding items.


Add items that sounds can be made with like spoons and bowls and try different materials. Or add musical instruments bought or homemade. Counting coconuts has a mixture of both in their basket.


Use herbs from the garden or spices. Nature items are a great addition too. Rhymes of play use items from nature in their basket.


Be it Christmas, Easter, Matariki or a birthday. Items that tell a story or help to celebrate it are great in a basket. I adore this Christmas basket from Wildflower ramblings.


Think kitchen, bathroom or bedtime. Love this simple basket from Laptops and nap times with brushes.


Grab items that say autumn, winter summer or spring to your early childhood setting and the children. Perfect for place-based learning.

About me.

Add a mirror and photos with other items that support identity and the child or children. fabulous idea from Treasure time kids and I will be trying this one NEXT!.


Be it trucks or animals you can group them in a basket. The That’s not my series could be added too and wahhhhlah you have a story basket 😉 If you want to see more story baskets or learn some tips and tricks to making them then my blog may be of interest. Or perhaps learning my secrets and making your own story basket would be of interest. You can learn how to in 7 lessons or days.


Free and great to explore in a basket. They could be items sourced locally or from going on holiday.

Here are some we use often.

  • pinecones

  • feathers

  • sticks

  • stones

  • fresh herbs

  • prickly seed pods

  • acorns

  • conkers

  • walnut shells

  • leaves

  • shells

  • driftwood

  • sea sponge

  • seaweed

  • sea glass


Think about all the textured be it lumpy or rough and add them to a basket to enrich the senses and language. Rather than a basket, I used a wooden tray in the shape of a turtle. the metal pebbles and a great addition with little palm bowls that come in a set of 4 .


Be it wood, metal, cloth, plastic or…

We love:

· hessian

· crocheted doilies

· feather boas

· satin ribbon

· checked cloth

· knit that stretches

· muslin, silk, tulle, gauze

· wooden bowls and spoons

· wood blocks and rings

· wooden pegs

· metal bowls and spoons

· tea sets

· flax or harakeke or cane

· brushes for painting or makeup


Opposites attract and when combined add interest and conversation.

You can try:

· Heavy and light

· Smooth and rough

· Big and small

· Dark and light

· Shiny and dull

· Black and white

· Magnetic and nonmagnetic

I hope you grab a basket and add items to delight the senses and support young children’s thinking or working theories.

Until next time.


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