Happy New Year from us all at Hemsley House Day Nursery in Maidstone! We hope 2018 has already started off well, as it has done for us, after the hustle and bustle of the festive season. We have loved hearing all about the children’s Christmas and all about the exciting things that Santa has brought them.
Now that the excitement of the season has calmed down and we are all looking at what the new year will bring, it is a wonderful time to consider how our children play, and what they play with. There is much research that highlights the benefit of play with natural materials, and this is something that is integral to how we offer learning opportunities at Hemsley House. There are, however, lots of wonderful, and cost effective, things that can be done in the home to benefit children’s curiosity and motivation.
Treasure baskets are a simple, yet stimulating, way to engage infants in what is around them. They contain objects made from natural materials gathered in a small basket, where children can select what they would like to explore and use their senses. This is very much a child led experience and it is important to give the child plenty of time to explore. Some ideas of things you can put in treasure baskets are wooden utensils (spoons, brushes), metal utensils (sieves, spoons), pine cones, natural materials like leather, sponges and wooden curtain loops.
For children who are a little bit older, this type of heuristic play can still be explored and highly beneficial, with plenty of natural objects that can be larger than those in a treasure basket. Children can also build and stick these resources as they are more mobile. Some additional items you can provide are cardboard boxes, saucepans and shells. This is, again, all about the children taking the led, so give them plenty of time, space and use lots of rich language to further the experience. Try adding in a few more interesting items from time to time too to keep the child’s interest levels high.