For me, watching a baby at play is completely magical. I love how they immerse themselves in the experience of busy exploration, instinctively using all their senses to get to grips with whatever they're playing with - whether it's their toes or a toy. I'm a huge fan of heuristic play too - that is to say, discovery play with things that are not necessarily toys - everyday objects and natural materials especially. Putting together little collections of intriguing and baby-safe play-things for open-ended exploration was big round here when my two children were tiny. And how I loved to watch them play.
Recently, we had the opportunity of meeting our friends' baby twins. The babies are just under one year old, and of course, we wanted to get them each a gift - so I went shopping. I found the soft baskets first, and they really inspired me to make the babies each a little treasure basket full of interesting things to explore. As these baskets were gifts, I didn't use home-made and found items; I continued my shopping in search of interesting, open-ended objects and toys. I found some gorgeous silky ribbon, two chunky and smooth mini-scoops, and four hand-size but too-big-for-mouths colourful bouncy balls.
Back at home, I cut the ribbons into lengths of about 15 cm, then snipped the ends into a 'v' shape to prevent them fraying. I washed and dried the bouncy balls and scoops, and then filled the baskets with the goodies - ready to be handed over.
We were lucky to be able to watch the twins open their presents and, rather wonderfully, they started playing straight away. We saw them tipping out the contents of the basket, then putting things back in. We watched them clutch the ribbons and wave them around. They grasped the bouncy balls, they mouthed the scoops and the ribbons, and one of the baskets even became a hat. You could really see them engaging in the serious business of play; and I'm sure you could really see my enjoyment watching them. All in all, a resounding success.