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Written by Laura Wilhelm Photos by Gryphon House and Shutterstock

Treasure basket exploration is a terrific idea for not-yet-mobile infants. The concept could be modified in some ways to better fit toddler’s through kindergartener’s strong sense of order. I struggled a little bit with this concept because I know from my own observations, as well as those of Maria Montessori and interactions with children in the early childhood years (birth-6 years old), that this period of time in a child’s development is crucial for preparing an environment that instills a very orderly way of thinking. At the infant and toddler stage of development, little ones are all about moving and exploring, so the baskets work well. There is a certain amount of order to it because the objects are contained within the basket. They come out of the basket and, when finished, return to the basket (sometimes by the infant or toddler—more often than not by the parent or teacher). The baskets are almost like introductory work for the primary level (3-6 years old), where the activities are contained in baskets or on trays but are designed to teach a skill rather than just allow for exploration.

I need to do more research about “heuristic learning” to truly understand what it is. As I read this book, it sounds like you put a bunch of stuff in a pile and the children get to “explore” it. For me it sounds a bit too unstructured for 3-6-year-olds, as they are really ready for order and imitation rather strictly exploration. Their activities always have some flexibility for exploration but also have a beginning, a middle, and end within each activity.

So, there are some very usable ideas for the infant-toddler years, and some ideas that can be modified for older children in Treasure Basket Exploration.