We’ve been thinking a bit about heuristic play and treasure baskets lately.
Heuristic play is “used to describe the activity of a toddler when he plays with objects…this play is not a social activity as it concerns how the toddler experiments with the objects and the environment…This kind of play can be desribed as ‘experimental’, as the toddler’s primary interest is to discover what he can do with the objects he finds.” ( A. M. Hughes, Developing Play for the Unders 3s).
Heuristic play is playing with real things, and treasure baskets are collections of real things that have a common connection, such as all wood, all metal, and so on. Treasure baskets are for one child at a time, to be explored as they see fit, with minimal interaction with an educator or parent, although the adult should always remain close by.
The video shows 11 month old Freya with her treasure basket for the first time. We can see how engaged she is, how interested and involved, how exploratory and curious and competent she is. She remains here, playing, for eight and a half minutes, and many advocates of heuristic and treasure basket play recommend leaving space for half an hour to an hour of uninterrupted time for child’s play.
We loved seeing how completely involved this child was, and are keen to begin exploring heuristic play and treasure baskets at Flinders. Imagine babies and young toddlers engaged in a single play experience for this length of time…truly amazing.