What is a loose parts treasure basket? I am so glad you asked.
In the past I have covered all sorts of treasure baskets and many are similar in that the intentions are all about supporting children’s learning through play and the use of natural and recycled materials.
My own goals as an educator and teaching resource provider has been to provide alternative and sustainable practices in my methods.
These are all my own opinions based on past research and personal experience, and therefore are just guidelines that anyone can use or modify to suit the context of their community.
What is a Loose Parts Basket?
A basket filled with a variety of objects that can be used together or separately with no particular object in mind, except for allowing the child to explore and to create their own ideas and uses for them.
Children use loose parts or everyday objects to build, construct and create through play, their own scenarios.
Rather than one game or toy that is limited in it’s use, these type of resources can become an extension of the child’s creative expression.
They may use them to tell stories, or to recreate something like an event (going to the zoo or park) a favourite movie or revisit an interest.
Ideas For Contents
Literally anything can go in the basket.
It may contain things like:
- wood slices,
- rocks and stones
- cotton reels,
- stackable containers,
- wooden blocks
- animals, bugs or dinosaurs
- wooden vehicles
- greenery, branches
- these are just a few ideas and there may be many things accessible for you to add
Children will also find and add to their resources as they feel the need and often see uses fir things we would not have imagined.
However always think about the age group that you are providing for and the safety issues of the objects you are including eg choking hazards, and never leave very young children unsupervised while playing. This does not mean that you necessarily have to be participating or interupting their play but being nearby and having a watchful approach is a good idea.
Ideas For Using the Contents
Give children a clear, open space to explore their treasures. Provide a variety of fabrics or silk scarves to utilize, you could include these in the basket and they are great for creating rivers and grassy areas for their animals.
Take it outside under the shade of a tree on a nice day and let them use the environment around them as part of their play.
There could be lots of beautiful and functional natural resources they are able to use to extend their experience.
These type of experiences allow for children to use their imagination through open ended play. There are no expectations placed upon the child or any desired outcome. It is all about exploring, discovering, experimenting and creating.
Be available to engage in discussions, offer provocations and share ideas and suggestions. Encourage problem solving through these conversations, and by giving children time to figure things out on their own through trial and error.
How is this Beneficial for Children and Educators/Parents
Some of the wonderful learning that comes from playing with these types of resources is not only beneficial to the child but can give insight to the parent or educator as to how a child feels or thinks.
Often when a child is left to play you will hear them talking, giving a running record of what they are doing, just like adults have that internal dialogue as they problem solve.
This can be used to create other experiences or address issues that rise from this.
These experiences can be used to support children as they develop their communication skills, language, and self expression.
Children are discovering how things work as they are in control of what they are creating, they are learning about balance and spacial awareness, how things connect and discovering a range of texture and sensory related materials.
The possibilities for their play experiences are endless as there are unlimited combinations of materials, objects and ideas.
A basket of loose parts is a wonderful investment into your child’s learning journey and does not need to cost anything. I am sure a little treasure hunt around the house will turn up all sorts of amazing things you never thought could be of use.
Have fun putting together your baskets and joining your little ones on a journey of discovery, and see what you discover about them too.
Enjoy and please add a comment if you liked this and would like to see more of this type of post.
Founder and CEO of The Treasure Baskets