This is a guest post by Kylie of How We Montessori.
A discovery basket (often known as a treasure basket) is a basket of items that you present to your child to explore. The basket is usually given to the child as soon as they can sit. This is often at around six months old.
The child must be supervised at all times although you don’t need to sit right next to them, it’s best if you can sit back or supervise from a distance. The aim is for the child to explore each item as they select it from the basket. The child can explore with all of their senses. This means the items must be safe enough for the child to put in their mouth. If you are unsure, it’s best to leave the item out or wait until the child is older.
Start with a basket. We prefer a basket woven from natural materials. The basket must in a good condition. You don’t want a basket that is falling apart or with bits that the child could potentially pull off and put in their mouth. A child will often spend as much time exploring the basket as the contents inside.
Next you will need to find some items to put in the basket. For a younger child I suggest limiting the amount of items to five or six. Once the child is older the number of items is only limited by the size of your basket. Make sure your basket and all items inside are clean and dry.
Otis’ first discovery basket contained three items: a small piece of silk, a knitted ball and a toddler’s hairbrush. As he got older, I introduced more items and varied the items I gave to him. As a toddler he still loves a discovery basket!
You can have your basket full of random items or you can theme your basket. Try themes such as kitchen, bathroom, nature or theme by the season or by color. Look for items with different textures, weights, smells, tastes and sounds.
- Ribbon (silk, grosgrain, colored or textured)
- Piece of fabric, leather, felt, flannel
- Ball of wool
- Small purse, coin or card holder
- Wooden block
- Wooden ring
- Cotton reels/spools
- Silk scarf
- Wooden egg
- Mini (play) beanbags
- Small balls (tennis, juggling, felt)
- Small baby toys such as a rattle
- Small musical instruments such as a maraca
From the kitchen:
- Paper bags
- Ice cube trays
- Small tins (such as mint, chocolate or tea tins – emptied and cleaned)
- Metal measuring spoons or measuring cups
- Empty spice jars
- Pastry brush
- Wooden spoon
- Egg cups
- Egg carton
- Pieces of fruit or vegetables (small squash, corn)
- Salad servers
- Egg separator
- Paper towel rolls
- Cloth napkins
- Cookie cutters
- Dried beans inside a small jar with the lid on tight
- Spices such as nutmeg or a vanilla bean inside a spice jar with the lid on firmly
From the bathroom:
- Face cloth
- Brushes (hair, body, tooth, shaving, make-up brush)
- Powder puff
- Hair rollers
- Scrunchies or hair bands
- Bath plug
- Wooden massager
- Wooden soap dish
- Large shell
- Smooth stone
It’s easy to change the contents of the basket by using items that you already have. If you are looking for new items, walk around your home room to room and look inside your cupboards and drawers – who knows what you’ll find!
Montessori part 2 of 51. Kylie of How We Montessori by Kylie @ How We Montessori
2. What is a Discovery Basket and How to Make One by Kylie @ How We Montessori
3. Storing Toys the Montessori Way by Kylie @ How We Montessori
4. 5 Quick and Easy Montessori Activities for Toddlers by Kylie @ How We Montessori
5. Toddler Activities: Art by Kylie @ How We Montessori