National Army Museum logo

Play Base: Testing Treasure Baskets

Last updated: 13 December 2016

Catherine Beckett, our Families Assistant, talks about taking some of the activities planned for our new early years learning facility, Play Base, out on the road.

Playing with both natural and household objects

To develop the National Army Museum’s new Play Base, I wanted to pilot and evaluate some of the resources and activities for the space, including Treasure Baskets and Heuristic Play.

I took some of these resources and activities to Cheyne Children’s Centre in Chelsea, and held three testing sessions in their baby room. During these sessions the children were able to get hands-on with objects like whisks and pinecones.

Babies and children learn and gather information using many different methods. Treasure Baskets are used to encourage sensory development in children aged 0-7 years old. A variety of baskets will be available in Play Base, each following different themes, and containing both natural and household objects of various sensory qualities.

These baskets enable children to explore, sort and examine independently, and facilitate sensory learning by using touch, smell, sound, sight and even taste! They allow children to satisfy their curiosity in their own way.

Discovering what objects are in the treasure baskets

Heuristic Play is discovery play using lots of objects. The resources required are very similar to Treasure Baskets, but aren’t restricted by the size of the baskets.

Heuristic Play is often considered the next step on from Treasure Baskets, and is used once babies have become more mobile and can explore further. This kind of play commonly includes things they can grasp onto, such as wooden spoons and jam jars.

Treasure Baskets and Heuristic Play are not only a lot of fun, they also facilitate the beginning of decision-making and concentration. They form the foundation for all future problem solving, mathematics and science. The resources also encourage learning through play by enabling first-hand experiences.

When children are engaging with Treasure Baskets or Heuristic Play, it is the adult’s role to be present and attentive to the needs of the babies without having to take part in their play. It is not the adult’s role to direct or participate.

It was great to see the children at Cheyne Children’s Centre communicate their excitement with each other and the nursery teachers, indicating how users of the new Play Base will enjoy this kind of play.

We look forward to welcoming visitors into our new exciting Play Base when the Museum opens in Spring 2017.

Read more Learn and Play stories

Be the first to leave a comment

Add your comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

(By ticking this box you agree for your name and email address to be added to the National Army Museum's mailing list. You also accept the terms of the National Army Museum's Privacy Policy)

Please note: By submitting a comment you are agreeing to the terms laid out in the National Army Museum's Rules for User Comments. Any views expressed in user comments do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of the National Army Museum or its staff.

Information & Enquiries

Contact the General Enquiries desk: