Heuristic play describes the activity of babies and children as they play with and explore the properties of ‘objects’. These ‘objects’ are things from the real world.
We live in a world where plastic toys dominate the shelves of toy shops, but plastic is dull and disappointing for children. While each rattle may look different each one smells, tastes and feels the same – it is unstimulating to the senses.
Using heuristic play with toddlers stimulates all the senses, creating a rich learning experience. Heuristic play revolves around the use of the Treasure Basket. The Treasure Basket is a ridged low sided round basket filled with ‘objects’ from the ‘real world’ these ‘objects’ are made from any material but plastic, and come from a variety of sources in nature and that might be found around the home. It is through handling and exploring these objects that a baby develops contact with the outside world, and begins to make their own choices and decisions.
The treasure basket is not a static plaything, over time objects can be added, taken out and replaced. For example; shells from a trip to the beach or pine cones from a visit to the park. Every treasure basket will be a unique collection of objects.
Below is a list of objects that might be found in a treasure baskets here at Highgate Montessori:
- Paper / cardboard objects: Egg boxes, notebook, sturdy cardboard tubes.
- Wooden objects: Door wedge, small turned bowl, dolly pegs, egg cup, wooden egg, spoons, curtain rings, coaster, bracelet, block, napkin rings, empty salt and pepper cellars.
- Leather, textile, rubber, or fur objects: Small knitted toy, bean bag, piece of flannel, velvet powder puff, bags of herbs, bag of lavender, leather key ring, coloured ribbons, leather purse.
- Rubber objects: Ball, bath plug with chain, soap holder, door stop, coaster.
- Metal objects: Honey drizzler, an egg cup, curtain ring, egg poacher, measuring spoons, tea strainer, whisk, powder compact, bells, lemon squeezer, small bowl.
- Natural objects: A lemon or orange, coconut shell, grass rope, sheepskin, pumice stone, loofah, shells, pine/fir cones, driftwood, avocado stone, large pebbles.
- Brushes: Scrubbing brush, pastry brush, baby’s hair brush, nail brush, makeup brush, paint brush, shaving brush, wooden toothbrush.
- Other objects: Small vanilla essence or food colouring bottle, hair rollers, small mirror.