150 + Items to Include in your Discovery Basket

I’ve posted before about my love for discovery baskets. This has triggered quite a few questions on some of the forums I frequent about what to include in a discovery basket and how to start one, so I decided to write a little bit more about them and to come up with a list of discovery basket items and a mini tutorial.

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Please note that although I use most of these items, I do not use all of these items at present as I believe Buddy would attempt to eat them, however I do plan to use some smaller items as he grows. Only you can judge what is appropriate to give to your child. If in doubt please read my disclaimer post. Discovery baskets are designed for independent play and exploration, however you should always supervise your child with this activity.

What is a discovery basket?
Quite simply, it is a basket that you fill with ordinary non-hazardous items for your child to explore.
The theory behind it is that children are naturally inclined to explore and investigate to develop their own understanding and knowledge. Through exploring safe items that stimulate the senses, children are storing and retaining information about texture, taste, sound, appearance and scent. They are learning the sound that a spoon makes when it hits a saucepan, and comparing the sound to when it hits a table, they are seeing and feeling the texture and shape, tasting it and comparing it to how a metal spoon feels. This enables them to apply this knowledge to other objects.

Using a discovery basket enables a child to independently play and explore. To discover the items they want to discover, when they want to discover them.

You can read more about heuristic play here.

Treasure baskets and heuristic play

So how do you get started. It couldn’t be more simple.

Select a basket
I prefer to use a proper basket however you can use a cardboard box, a plastic tub or any other large container you have in your home.
I use two different baskets. One large and low basket and a slightly taller, small square basket.



Select Your Items

For young babies, four or five items are recommended, however for older babies and children there really is no limit (other than the size of your basket!) I tend to include between 10-20 items, depending on the size of the items.

I always prepare my discovery basket in the evening before I go to bed, and it is always the first thing that Buddy goes to when he gets up in the morning.


What to include?
This list is by no means exhaustive. Most of these items could be found around your home.

Kitchen items

  • Wooden spoon
  • Rolling pin
  • Salad spoons
  • Small chopping board
  • Bamboo steamer
  • Wooden chopstick
  • Honey dipper
  • Whisk
  • Spatula
  • Potato masher
  • Slotted spoon
  • Ladle
  • Tongs
  • Saucepan
  • Saucepan lid
  • Colander
  • Sieve
  • Garlic press
  • Tea strainer
  • Small tin
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Silicon cake moulds
  • Egg timer
  • Pastry brush
  • Cookie cutters
  • Muffin tin
  • Kitchen roll holder

Bathroom items

  • Shaving brush
  • Cosmetic brush
  • Sponge
  • Flannel
  • Net sponge
  • Cotton wool balls
  • Towel
  • Rubber bath mat
  • Loofah
  • Pumice stone
  • Nail brush
  • Toothbrush
  • Paddle brush
  • Baby comb
  • Bath plug and chain
  • Hair ties
  • Scrunchy
  • Fabric hair band
  • Hair rollers
  • Hair net
  • Shower cap
  • Back massager

Office Items

  • Metal bull clip
  • Clipboard
  • Cork board
  • Brown paper
  • Ball of string
  • Newspaper
  • Spiral bound notebook

Household Items

  • Dishcloth
  • Duster
  • Feather duster
  • Tea towel
  • Sponge
  • Scourer
  • Scrubbing brush
  • Dustpan and brush
  • Clothes pegs
  • Kitchen roll
  • Hand towel

Living and Dining items

  • Coasters
  • Placemats
  • Empty tissue box
  • Sturdy photo album
  • Remote control
  • CD
  • Curtain rings
  • Napkin rings
  • Egg cup
  • Small bread basket
  • Cutlery


  • Leather wallet or purse
  • Store card
  • Passport case
  • Phone case
  • Keys
  • Glasses case
  • Cosmetic bag with zip

Natural items

  • Pine cones
  • Feather
  • Dried grass
  • Large shells
  • Seaweed
  • Leaves
  • Large rocks
  • Cork
  • Avocado pear stone
  • Large chestnuts
  • Tree bark
  • Dried flowers
  • Whole fruits
  • Whole vegetables

Materials and clothing

  • Lace fabric
  • Denim fabric
  • Cotton fabric
  • Velvet fabric
  • Woolen hat
  • Chenille scarf
  • Pashmina
  • Large buttons
  • Silk tie
  • Ball of wool
  • Cotton reels and bobbins
  • Shoe laces
  • Ribbon
  • Tape measure
  • Felt
  • Velcro
  • Bows
  • Muslin

Musical instruments

  • Triangle
  • Rattle
  • Drum
  • Bells
  • Whistle
  • Cymbals
  • Recorder
  • Castanets
  • Maracas

Sporting items

  • Tennis ball
  • Golf ball
  • Ping pong ball
  • Bicycle bell
  • Juggling ball
  • Bean bag

 Craft and play items

  • Colourful pom poms
  • Foam shapes
  • Drinking straws
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Wooden blocks
  • String of beads
  • Wooden train track
  • Corrugated paper
  • Wooden alphabet shapes
  • Raffia
  • Paintbrushes
  • Finger puppets
  • Sandpaper


  • Egg carton
  • Empty formula can
  • Empty bottles
  • Empty bottles filled with pasta or rice
  • Kitchen roll tube
  • Small cardboard boxes
  • Empty tissue box
  • Baby food jars
  • Jar lids

I hope you have enjoyed the list and get some great ideas for discovery baskets with your little ones. If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy our Spider’s Web Discovery Basket, this is a great interactive activity for babies, toddlers and younger kids too!

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Thanks for visiting!

150 items


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