Sunday, May 8, 2011

Em's Treasure Basket

Happy Mother's Day to all you deserving mamas out there!  My husband is dutifully playing with Em, who is refusing to nap, so that I can get some uninterrupted blogging and photo editing time in before we head to the in-laws' for dinner.  We have had a wonderful day so far.  Before the new week begins, I wanted to be sure to give you a crafty idea that has been a blessing for me this week.  So here is a Mother's Day gift from me to you!

How many times have I sent you over to Modern Parents, Messy Kids now?  A dozen?  And you're still not following them?  Tsk, tsk.  Well, I will continue to share my brilliant finds with you, and today is no exception.  I absolutely fell in love with the notion that Every Baby Should Have A Treasure Basket, my Em included!  I am not brave enough to try to sensory box with Jax quite yet, but maybe once we are spending more time outside I'll be more brave.  For now, I'm focusing on entertaining baby girl enough to get some things done once in a while, now that we've entered that frustrating time of I-slept-for-ten-minutes-in-the-car-and-that's-all-you're-gonna-get-all-day toddlerhood.  I curse this stage, and am often left with a full inbox or a dozen photos left unedited because she is straight-up refusing to take a nap.  I have pulled out this treasure basket three times this week in the aftermath of Mommy-time interrupted, and it has been a goldmine every time.

Here's what you need:

1.  a basket, or some kind of large container, with or without a lid depending on baby's age. A lid would be a nice challenge as baby gets older and maybe once the novelty of the treasure basket has worn off.  I really do think an interesting, attractive container would be better than a plain-old tupperware bin that looks like every other storage unit in your house.  This is a "treasure basket."  Let's treat it as such.

Here is the verbatim definition of what should go in the basket, as quoted by MPMK:

According to Anna, an early education and art specialist from The Imagination Tree, treasure baskets benefit babies age 6-18 months by:

• encouraging them to use their senses to discover, explore, investigate and examine new materials/ shapes/ colours/ tastes/ textures/ sounds/ weights/ quantities
• developing their thinking skills
• promoting open-ended and independent play

You can go to The Imagination Tree and scope out Anna's treasure box that she made for her baby, but all you need to do is compile some "treasures" that are intriguing to baby's senses, especially touch and sound, and that allow baby to learn and explore his or her world.  There is no "purpose," per se.  It's all about discovery (and by the way and not surprisingly, this is a Montessori technique) and you may be surprised which items your baby gravitates toward more than others.  I am sure that your 12-month-old would choose different treasures than mine.  I'm sure that in 3 months, they would both be attracted to completely new things.  As their brains develop, their interests may change.  Or maybe Em will always go for the jewelry first; we'll see!

So here's what's in Em's treasure basket:

2.  Manhattan Toy Beads Wood Rattle
3.  tissue paper
4.  small Oball
5.  2 wooden blocks
6.  some Megablocks
7.  2 plastic circles from Jax's clock
8.  2 heart-shaped bracelets
9.  teething keys
10.  toy tambourine
11.  felt
12.  a crinkly, squeeky baby toy
13.  plastic measuring spoons
14.  2 Megablocks little guys
15.  terrycloth washcloth
16.  comb
17.  tiny board book
18. blabla mini cat rattle
19.  clutch purse with a clasp
20.  take n toss cup with lid, with three big acorns in it
21.  a rock
22.  beaded necklace 
23.  zebra rattle
24.  toy cereal box with rattly cereal inside
25.  pink polkadot ribbon
26.  2 crayola jumbles
27.  a wooden piece with holes from Jax's Melissa & Doug toolbox
28. egg shaker
29.  Christmas bell
30.  a pinwheel from Em's birthday party
31.  small tupperware with snappy lid
32.  a sunhat from Anne Taylor Loft that looks ridiculous on me
33.  chenille burp cloth
34.  Playskool Wheel Pal
35.  Educo wooden car
36.  pink stuffed birdie that tweets
37.  paint brush
38.  broken Blackberry

You may be surprised to learn that they recommend 50-100 items in a treasure basket for Em's age group, but I think 38 is sufficient for now. I can trade things out easier if I only have so many!

So, the question remains, how does she like it?

I would dare to say that for the amount of effort it cost me to put this basket together, this project is a homerun!  Uninterrupted, only partially-supervised fun at our fingertips!

I  keep the basket in my bedroom so that it doesn't become mundane and something she gets all the time.  I won't let her brother play with it; it's something special and all hers, and I wouldn't use it if he was around.  Mostly because he's in a monster "mine!" stage, and I must admit that several of the items in the basket are, in fact, his.  In order to keep the treasure basket as an entirely positive experience, I want to eliminate any unnecessary drama as possible.

Three afternoons this week, after she woke up and Jax was still napping, I brought her into my room and we played with this on the floor.  The first day I was there to participate and observe.  She explored happily for 25 minutes, only needing me to assist and explain what certain things were for (like the purse, which has a bit of a confusing clasp).  I think she would have played longer had she not needed a snack.

The second time we used it she played for 45 minutes with only minor interaction on my part.  I sat on the floor with her and made sure she didn't turn any of her treasures into a chocking hazard (as you should, as well), but I kept busy on my laptop and she played happily on her own, sometimes just creeping over to show me something that she found interesting.  The third time I wasn't on my computer, but she still played rather independently of me for about 45 minutes.

All three times she gravitated toward three things: the girlie things, like the beads, the real-life things, like the measuring spoons, tupperware, and cell phone, and the things she could "sort."  This is not surprising given her developmental stage, but I do love when she goes straight for the necklaces and purse! 

The acorns were a huge hit, because of their unfamiliarity and because they made a very cool sound rumbling inside that take-n-toss container.  She opened it, pulled them out, put them inside the small tupperware, closed that, and repeat, about 100 times.  Then she mixed them with the measuring spoons.  She also loved the sound of the beads inside the tupperware.  Anything that was noisy was a hit, like the tissue paper or tambourine.  And even though I tried to make this basket non-sexist by including traditionally "boy" toys, she didn't even glance at them twice.  I guess stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason!

And next time, I am going to definitely include my spare lens cap.  I should have known; every baby's best friend!!

I hope that you will take the ten minutes necessary to create this sensory delight for your 6-18 month old.  I promise you it will entertain and educate them, and allow for you to get a few extra minutes to yourself!  If you make one, be sure to link back to me, so that I can find out what treasures work for you and steal them when I need to give Em's basket an update!

And if you want to know where I've linked this craft, check out my Links & Things tab above!


Morela said...

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!! I'm a new follower. This is a great post. What a good idea. I really must try it. Can't wait to read more of your blog.


Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy said...

This is such a great idea!! I wish I had known about it when my nephew was your daughter's age. It would have been perfect. At two, I think he may still enjoy something like this...that we only pull out once in awhile.

Great post!

shopannies said...

love your idea my mother did this for us, I did this for our children and my daughter does it for her daughter I love the little nook just for the little one

Show Me Mama said...

Happy Mother's Day! Your little one is absolutely adorable. I am your new follower. You can visit me at Make sure you leave a comment so I know you visited.

Have a great weekend

Anonymous said...

You're such a good mamma! Hoping you had a lovely day :)

Laura@everydayeasy said...

What an amazing idea!! I will definitely be putting one of these together for my 7 month old!

T.J. said...

oh how I love Montessori ideas! Em looks like she's having a blast even though you didn't have to invest hours of work into this project- well done :)

Happy Mother's Day to you!

Little Bitty Things said...

What a great idea! I'm gonna have to "borrow" this idea too!

Nicolette @ Momnivore's Dilemma said...

Uninterrupted writing and photo time is the best present any mama {well one who blogs} can ask for.

I just stumbled upon that blog you mentioned the other day...

Love it!

The sensory bin is messy, but start small. A small container with big pieces of pasta like penne. I did rice at first. Huge mistake...

XLMIC said...

We have a treasure basket, too! But our basket isn't quite as classy and attractive as yours :P

Hope you had a lovely Mother's Day :)

Mary said...

Great post.. Mr Mason is 3 now but he still has a basket full of his fav stuff to play with :) TFS
New follower:

Jackie said...

This treasure basket looks like a great idea! Thanks for the info and you little one is so precious! Swinging by from FTLOB!

TheKidIsRich said...

What a brilliant idea!! Thanks for sharing :)

Stopping by from the Meet Me Monday Blog Hop - your newest follower via GFC :) Would *so* appreciate a follow back!

Educating kids and teens in entrepreneurship

Patricia said...

The pictures are great she is a darling.

I am following you via MMM blog hop. Please follow me.

Denise said...

New follower from Let's Get Social Sunday. This is a great idea! I hope you can follow back

Ginger said...

Good idea! Thanks for linking up to Mad Skills Monday!

Jenny @ Embellishing Life said...

What a great idea! :)

Jayne @ Mimi to Tee and Bee said...

Em's treasure basket reminds me of Tee's backpack. One time when she came to visit, I looked in her backpack that she had personally packed. Some of things that I can remember that were in there were a can of Vienna Sausages, Starburst, 2 broken crayons, some change, and a plastic cow. There were other things and the bag was heavy.

Anyhoo, I'm now following you from the Let's Get Social Blog Hop! Hope your day was even better than you expected.

Jill said...

What a lovely idea! I love the things you put in the basket - perfect things to explore for that age group!

Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
Hope you have a great week!
Jill @ Creating my way to Success

Yasher said...

Wonderful pictures; wonderful ideas! I know a 5 year old that would love the idea of a treasure basket. Never too old to 'explore' right? LOL

AllieMakes! said...

What a great idea! We had a bucket of fun stuff like that when my little girl was little... It was my purse, lol! No wonder my little girl likes purses and all things girlie, eh? This is a WAY better idea than mom's purse! Great job!
Thank you for linking up to Making It With Allie! I can't wait to see what you have for next week!

Anonymous said...

What a great idea, love that you can always switch things out and keep it new! Thanks for linking up!

Stephanie Lynn @Under the Table and Dreaming said...

This is such a fantastic idea that every baby should have! Your little girl looks thrilled! Thanks for sharing - Hope you had a wonderful weekend!
~Stephanie Lynn

Melissa said...

You are always so clever! Thank you for sharing!!

P.S Your daughter is so dang cute!

Cathy James said...

We are big fans of treasure baskets too. Thanks for the great ideas of what to include (and such cute photos). Hope you had a lovely Mothers Day.

Quirky Momma said...

I've never read Modern Parents, Messy kids! Thanks for helping me discover another fun blog! I am a follower of The Imagination Tree though and noticed that you didn't link to her in your reference. Here are her discovery boxes:

Cheers and you have a new fan!!

Anna @ The Imagination Tree said...

Looks like she LOVED it! Thanks for adding the link back to my site :-)

Kassi @ Truly Lovely said...

She is such a DOLL!!! And seems to really enjoy her treasures!! LOVE the ruffle bum onesie by the way! :) Thanks for sharing this on Fancy This Fridays!! Hope you'll stop by on Monday to see if you are a giveaway winner, featured post, or BOTH! :)