I had an appointment at the GP surgery with my son, who at the time was around 10 months; we arrived 5 minutes before our appointment was due and I naïvely thought we would be in and out in 10 minutes and did not bring the nappy bag with all the usual distractions inside (lots of food and snacks in my son’s case!). It wasn’t long before he started to get restless and I desperately searched my bag for something to give him. First off I gave him my keys which worked for a short while, then I got the sense he was getting bored and would want something else, so I improvised by putting some coins in my sunglasses case to make a rattle for him to shake. My last resort was to allow him to have some unwanted paper in my bag which he took great pleasure in screwing up and tearing to shreds.
This then got me thinking…. How about creating a ‘Travel Treasure Basket’! Treasure baskets are commonly used as part of heuristic play for babies. It’s a great way for babies to explore the world around them and creates endless learning opportunities. For example when my son was playing with the keys, he was exploring all the properties of the object; heavy, shiny, cold, what sounds the keys made. When he shook the coins in the sunglasses case he was distinguishing between the different sounds it made from the keys, and when he started tearing the paper he was developing his all important fine and gross motor skills. This is the beauty of heuristic play, the learning is endless and there is no right or wrong way to play and explore. Without realising it my son was learning science and maths concepts and although he was probably not thinking ‘this metal object is heavy’ his brain was forming connections which will support his understanding as he grows and continues to explore other similar objects.
Best of all it can all be done for FREE! So to make a ‘travel’ treasure basket, which you can take with you any where, you would need a small tin or basket with a lid or a draw string bag. Then look around the house or outside for: Door wedge, small bowl, dolly pegs, egg cup, wooden egg, spoons, curtain rings, coaster, bracelet, napkin rings, dowel, empty salt and pepper cellars, blocks, chains with different weights and thickness, loofah, shells, pine/fir cones, driftwood, avocado stone.
Place it in the tin/basket and you are good to go! Please ensure you observe your child at all times when playing with objects, let them explore freely and provide a running commentary on what they are experiencing as this will enhance their language development.
PS: It took me 45 mins to be seen at the GP surgery!! But that’s another blog entirely!
By Sue Brown