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Play ideas for babies: Treasure baskets and boxes

Babies love to explore different shapes and textures, and to take objects out of a container and then put them back in again. Below are a range of different ‘containerising’ activities you can set up for your baby to explore different objects and to develop their motor skills.

  • Make a “treasure basket” full of interesting objects for young babies to explore. Select many objects and materials with different textures, shapes, surfaces, weights and temperature. Items might include bath chains, coasters, scourers, leather wallets, shiny ribbons, napkin rings, an old CD, a shell, a large piece of cork, curtain rings, a nail brush, a hairbrush, a tea strainer, pumice stone, cotton reels, egg cups, a potato masher, a honey dipper, keys, wooden and metal spoons, lace, small wooden ornaments, tin lids, a flannel, a bag of pot pourri, cardboard tubes … You can even include things like apples or lemons for your baby to smell and mouth to really stimulate their senses. Add new objects regularly.
  • Fill an empty tissue box or wipes container with small squares of different fabrics for your baby to pull out and push back in again.
  • Make sensory bags by putting different things in zip lock plastic bags, and taping them to the floor or window. Try buttons, pom poms and googly eyes, shaving foam and paint, oil and coloured water. Make sensory bottles in the same way, or fill bottles with rice, lentils and leaves to create attractive shakers.
  • Make posting boxes. Try an empty milk bottle turned on its side with a hole cut in the side. Cut the top off to make a bigger hole at the top. This way your baby can post objects in and tip them out again. Or use a formula tin and cut slots in the top. Provide your baby with a stack of lollysticks or straws to post in the slots.
  • Make a tugging box. Use a shoebox or a plastic lid (the lid might be easier for younger babies) and make holes in it. Push ribbons and lengths of string or rope through the holes and knot each end. Your baby should have fun pulling each length through the hole, then you can turn over and start again!

By Dr Vicki Hargraves

PREPARED FOR THE EDUCATION HUB BY

Dr Vicki Hargraves

Vicki runs our ECE webinar series and also is responsible for the creation of many of our ECE research reviews. Vicki is a teacher, mother, writer, and researcher living in Marlborough. She recently completed her PhD using philosophy to explore creative approaches to understanding early childhood education. She is inspired by the wealth of educational research that is available and is passionate about making this available and useful for teachers.