Now that Easter has passed and the candy is just about gone, have you thought about what you are going to do with the empty basket? Before you toss, recycle, or pack it away for next year, consider these alternate uses to spark your child’s imagination and inspire learning.
Put a few books in it and leave it within reach for your child. If the books are nearby and easily accessible, children are more likely to grab them! Interactive titles will work especially well for this use. Examples are books with flaps to lift, textures to feel or pictures to find. Even children who are not reading independently can gain great benefit from having books available for them to explore.
Take your basket on a nature walk and fill it with treasures! Rocks, sticks, flowers, etc. All of the interesting things your child can find. You can bring them home in the basket for a closer look. Or you can bring along a magnifying glass or pocket microscope for some observation in the field. So much learning happens when children are closely observing nature. They are recognizing patterns, making connections and learning how the world works. They are gaining an appreciation and respect for nature and their surroundings. When you bring the treasures home, you can explore them further. Maybe look them up in a book or online to identify them. Another idea is to make a craft out of what you found. Or just add them to a special spot in your garden.
Fill the basket with a bug catching kit and a book about bugs. Many kids are obsessed with bugs and will love the invitation to get up close and personal with their insect friends! One of my children is actually not a huge fan of bugs, in fact, he was so nervous about them that his fear almost ruined any time we had outside. So I got him a bug catching kit. He started to gradually catch and observe bugs. He started to understand their role in nature and appreciate them. I added a book about insects and now he loves to read about the different kinds of bugs and is always telling me cool facts about them. Some bugs still make him nervous. But since he has explored insects more closely and learned a bit more, he is able to enjoy being outside without being so nervous. Whether your child is a bug lover or not, this ideas has potential to appeal to both sides of the equation.
What is a storytelling basket? Great question! It is basically a basket filled with some materials that will help your child act out the story. Contents can include puppets, small toys, and other materials that can be used as props or characters. They can be as simple or as complicated as you and your kids want. You may even be able to easily find items in your home already, especially among their toys. Paper bags, old socks or large popsicle sticks can be turned into puppets. The easiest way to start out is to read a favorite story (fairy tales work especially well for this!) then ask your kids to find toys or household items that represent the characters, setting or events in the story. Using a storytelling basket is an excellent literacy exercise as well as a totally fun invitation to play. Give it a try! Your kids will love it!
Grocery Shop Basket
Use it to play grocery shopping. Either as a shopping basket or a way to display the shop’s wares. My youngest especially loves this type of play; grocery store, restaurant, anything to do with play food really. Playing store not only exercises the imagination, but uses social skills, writing, and math. Your kids can set up a display, write a price list, ring up the purchases, make change and give customer service. You could even use the basket to shop at a farmer’s market and let your child help you choose healthy food for the family. The bonus is that they may be more likely to at least try the food they choose. Worth a try anyway. 😉 My kids have always loved choosing fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market.
Did you get an Easter Bucket instead?
Here are a few bonus tips for you!
- Add some measuring cups and spoons for use in a mud kitchen in your yard.
- Add a shovel and bring to the beach or sandbox.
- Fill with bubbles and sidewalk chalk and keep in the entryway to always be ready for outside play.
I hope you found these ideas helpful and inspiring. Whether you try one of these ideas or if reading this got your own creative juices going, I would love to hear from you! Let me know how you plan to use your leftover basket or bucket to encourage learning in your home by dropping a comment below.