Treasure Baskets

Here at The Treasure Baskets, I create unique teaching resources (mainly heuristic play baskets) for infants, toddlers and young children to support creativity and imagination, through exploring with their senses.

I source most of my natural materials locally and everything else is recycled or handmade.

Every basket and product is unique and not mass produced, therefore I am able to provide affordable, natural alternatives to those interested in sustainable practices.


What are Treasure Baskets?

A treasure basket is exactly what it sounds like. A basket of treasures for children to explore, to dive in and pull apart, to discover the hidden secrets inside.

I like to fill mine with a variety of diverse, everyday household objects and natural materials that can be collated together in a singular container, box, or basket that is accessible and safe for children to explore and play with, with no real object in mind.

As I live near the beach, I love to include lots of natural materials in mine. I often find wonderfully unique pieces of driftwood that resemble fish and birds that I also include among the treasures. The baskets or containers that I use are usually low sided to provide easy access and visibility to children who are generally at floor level while playing.

A small rug, woven mat or pieces of fabric can be laid out for spreading the items out onto for clearer inspection as well.

There is no real objective but to empower children to be creative, use their imagination and to use the opportunity to explore a variety of tactile experiences in the process. These baskets are based around the ideas of heuristic play and environmental sustainability.

What kind of things would you find in a basket?

Almost anything can go into a treasure basket, although bearing in mind they are generally for young children, the safety aspect of this requires some thought. Anything that is too sharp edged or could be small enough to be a choking hazard, should not be included.

Generally all sorts of natural materials and regular household objects would be included. Things with different textures, shapes and colours for a variety of experiences.

What are the benefits for children?

The benefits for children through exploring the objects in the baskets are many, among them the ability  to promote inquiry, imagination, mathematical concepts, spacial awareness and language development to name just a few.

By using all the senses and developing that sense of wonder that is the basis of further exploration and ongoing learning. Interaction and time spent with the child/children while they are exploring is of great benefit.

This is where you as a parent or educator can support language development and pose those “wonder” questions. Young children are little sponges and soak up information constantly. By providing them with new words/language as they play, words to help them to describe what they see, feel and experience will eventually support their own ability to express themselves clearly.

Children love to explore, discover and they enjoy the element of surprise as we all do, even as adults., and never underestimate the fun factor.

How can i create my own treasure basket?

All you need is a little imagination and to think outside the box. You may never have to spend a cent. Start by having a look around the house, the kitchen is a great place to start. I have put together a list of just a few things and i am sure you will come up with lots more.

  • plastic lids and containers of various size and shapes(screw top containers can be filled with things to create shakers) they can be filled with sand, water, beads or pebbles to create different sounds
  • wooden spoons, ladels, whisks, clothes pegs, sponges, brushes, loufers
  • salt and pepper shakers, pepper mills
  • coasters, wood, material, leather
  • tongs, tea strainers, old tins, chop sticks,
  • scarves and other pieces of fabric, ribbon, fur, felt, woollen ,pom poms old bracelets or napkin rings, tactile/fabric books, rolling pins and cookie cutters
  • balls, hackysacks, mini bean bags, bells
  • metal and plastic lengths of chain

Go outside to the backyard, a walk in the bush or to the nearest beach or park and gather things like,

  • leaves, seed pods, acorns, walnut shells, pine cones
  • seashells, stones, twigs and driftwood, bark, seaweed
  • volcanic rocks, pumice
  • fresh herbs are always a nice touch too

I also frequent the second hand shops where I often find some amazing items which i clean up and add to some of my projects.

I have often walked in looking for one thing and walked out with such a diverse amount of objects, I get strange looks from the person serving me. My explanation is usually just ‘I am an early childhood teacher” which immediately brings a knowing smile and a nod of the head. I know there are many of us out there and are nodding right now.

Some cities have recycle centres, (I have one near me)where , for a gold coin donation you can explore the very organised rooms of recycled and kindly donated variety of materials and items and possibly find some little treasures among them. Its like heaven to me!

You will all have things unique to where you live, and I think you will probably think twice now before you throw things away. You may begin to see other uses for your trash.

Have fun making your own unique creations and I will be putting together a step by step to making your own baskets in the very near future, so keep an eye out for it and I hope some of you would be willing to share how you got along with yours and maybe share a few pictures.

Happy treasure hunting!

Where to from here?


We are living in a world where everything is designed to be disposable, a throw away world.

My hopes are that by exposing the next generation to an alternative solution, natural and recyclable materials, that it will help them to understand and appreciate the beautiful  and natural world around them.



10 Replies to “Treasure Baskets”

  1. How wonderful this is and so great to see how you source your resources. Have bookmarked for future visits and would also like to purchase some treasures you make please

    1. Thankyou for taking the time to drop by. Glad you found some useful information and let me know if you find any lovely treasures there. Thank again so much, Cheers Cass

    1. Thankyou Michelle, I would love to hear what kind of things you use to put your own sets together and ideas on the type of things you would like to see here. Thanks for your input. Regards Cassandra

  2. Hi Cassandra
    You have created a wonderful resource here in your write up about treasure baskets. This will be perfect to use as a literacy read for my level 3 ECE students .

    1. Thankyou so much Michaela, as an ece educator of 16 years I have always been passionate about literacy for young children as you will also see in my post Story Baskets. I would be honoured if you shared this with your students. Please stop by anytime.
      Nga mihi

  3. Hi Cassandra,

    This is an amazing article, i had no clue such a thing existed. I want to contribute myself and create a treasure box for myself and my little cousins. I like the fact that you really can put anything inside, as it doesn’t just pertain to what’s at the beach, but with keeping in mind to stay as natural as possible. What I like the most is how kids can use it as a learning process with their left and right brain for mathematical concepts, spatial awareness, and sparking their imagination. If I have kids one day, I will definitely consider this! Thank you.

    1. Thankyou Michael, I would love to see your one when you have made it. Feel free to share it. As I live on the coast I use what is most available and easily accessible, however we are fortunate here in New Zealand to have access to bush, mountains, rivers and beaches at all times. And we have the “clean, green image to uphold. Thankyou so much for your feedback.

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