Play is such an important part of child development, but so many times I've heard parents say... "They only wanted to play with the box". It's Christmas morning and your child has just opened this flashy, light-up, noisy toy and yet you turn around to see them playing with the packaging.  Why is that?  Why do all children share the same interest in the box, the wrapping paper, and/or the bows?  It's called Heuristic play.  The theory was coined by child psychologist Elinor Goldschmeid.  It's nothing knew, honestly.  Her theory basically indicates that children focus more on discovering the properties of an object rather than the object itself.  Our ancestors knew this about children, without realizing it.  They gave us pots and pans, spoons, pitchers to pour water, cups, funnels, rocks, mud, and they didn't have to store half the junk most parents of today do.  

"Treasure Baskets/Discovery Boxes" are part of Heuristic play and you can implement them from the time your baby can sit up until about 18 months.  They are baskets full of objects that range from random items to items that share a common attribute, like this reflective items basket I made for Jules a couple months ago.  

They should be items that are found around the house/yard that will stimulate baby's senses.  Nothing plastic or electronic seeing that those toys are usually very similar and can become boring very quickly.  I usually update the items every 2 weeks or so.  Sometimes her interest lasts for longer depending on the items.  I love to sit back without interrupting and watch her explore and concentrate on each item intently.  It's like the Tupperware drawer on steroids!  

Make sure the items are not too small or too dangerous.  However, at times I've put a few things in like small magnets and clothespins that I wouldn't normally let her play with, but wanted her to have the experience of magnetism and resistance. I sat with her and supervised while she played with them, then took them away when I had to leave.  It's also a safe way to tell your baby, "yes, you can play with these things" and you won't feel like you're constantly telling them, no-no. 

Children love playing with anything from the adult world and pretty much anything that was NOT meant for them, right?  It gives them a feeling of autonomy which leads to self confidence and happiness.  And don't we all want that for our little ones?

Other treasure basket ideas that were a big hit:

Shapes (2D & 3D)
Primary Colors
Rooms of Home (Bathroom/Kitchen)
Black & White

Happy Tuesday and I hope you are having a great week!