A basket of curios became a fabulous way for children to explore, wonder and think.

Updated: Sep 28, 2018


Around the world curiosity basket.

Curiosity is a crucial disposition as it ignites interest which helps us to learn and it drives creativity. The curiosity basket came from the children’s interest in loose parts and one object (the metal circle used as a sun) I had brought in to add to their transient art experience based on the book Taniwha by Robyn Kahukiwa. The wonderings and language around the object inspired me and I wanted to see what else I could find to support their curiosity and thinking.

Transient art provocation that led to the curiosity baskets. The metal objects for the sun ignited much wonderment and conversation.

A basket of curios felt like a great way for the child or children to lead and as the teacher I would explore alongside them. I could see that the baskets would offer opportunities for:


Curiosity, which is a foundation for critical thinking


Exploration, of senses, familiar and unfamiliar and opportunity to make sense of the world


Language, ways of being, doing and knowing, questions and wonderings


Senses, slowing down and experiencing the item with the senses. This is an aspect of mindfulness that supports heightened awareness.


Fine motor, care, attention, risk taking (with delicate or breakable objects)


I used a 'notice' , 'wonder' and 'question routine to support me as a teacher. This is very similar to the ‘see, think and wonder routine’ (the difference is that time is given rather than questions in the initial steps.


The curiosity baskets were made by me BUT I was stumped on some of the items, like this one.


Do you know what this is used for? What it is? I would love to know!




This was great as it put me in the same space as a child, I did not know what is was used for or what it was and was curious about it. I was able to ask myself the questions and ‘test’ the process. But from my use of them with the children, their wonderings and questions will take you in directions you never expected and bring a new appreciation for being curious.

Precious and fragile curiosity basket. There is an element of risk and risk taking with this basket but there is also a chance for a lot of child led and learner agency.

I did some homework before presenting the curiosity basket. Why? I knew I had children who would eventually want to know what the item was. I held off for as long as possible to not tell them and in some instances did not need to as they soon realised I wasn’t looking for the ‘right’ answer I was looking for 'their' answer. What I found interesting is that the ‘research’ I did on the facts I thought may be needed was not necessarily what the children wanted to know and so we would investigate together.


Holding off on ‘facts’ or answers from you allows the child or children to wonder and explore for longer and more deeply.


I created a monochrome basket for under two’s to support exploration of urges / schema. Instead of asking questions to the child I asked them of myself and provided language or a running commentary of the answers to the child (wWhat it felt like, what I or they were were doing). But mostly I played alongside them and we noticed and explored the items together.


I wanted to role model open ended questions if needed and support critical thinking so I wrote some down before presenting the basket. I was always aware that it was about the child or children leading and it may be that I would not use the questions the first or even the second time the basket was shared. Here are some of the questions that worked well:


What do you see, (feel, smell, hear or taste)? What questions do you have about this item?


What do you think?

Why do you think that? What would happen if....

Describe what you see, (feel, smell, hear or taste)? Can you explain....

Over the years I have found these 3 books support and inspire curiosity Stick and Stone ,

Ada Twist, Scientist and Dr Seuss books but a favourite is I wish I had duck feet . What is your favourite as I would love to add to my collection?



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