What is a Sensory Basket?

A sensory Basket is a basket full of sensory treasures enabling your little one to develop, explore and tantalise all their senses. The basket is full of wonderment allowing them to play, learn, discover through some of the most powerful and intense tools we have as humans, our senses!

Watching your little one dive into their basket and rummage around to find a new item that they might not have seen before and to observe as they run their fingers across the crevices and bumps and watch as they smell it with their noses and make a sound when they bash it on the floor. All the senses come into play and they are flooded with the richness of their senses as they begin their own personalised and unique journey with a sensory basket which has endless learning opportunities of self discovery.

Benefits of a sensory basket

Some of the ideology of a sensory basket comes from a Montessori ethos is based on the proven fact that children learn through understanding and doing, rather than being told. In addition to this the term Heuristic play coined by the psychologist Elinor Goldsmity in the 1980s describes the activity of babies and little people as they play and explore the properties of objects that are things from the real world.

Another theory has been described by John Locke who believed that children were born without any pre-existing knowledge and that children's development of knowledge needed caregivers to introduce new experiences to children from which upon they could learn. When discussing Locke's theory the term “Tabula Rasa” has been used to assert that the human mind is a blank slate upon which experience writes.

The sensory basket encourages little people to “do” through discovering the contents of their baskets which is full of fascinating real-world natural objects. This sense of discovery and self learning can lead to an inner confidence and sense of self-belief in their abilities to learn, assimilate and accommodate new information in skills such as problem solving. They can begin the tiny building blocks of understanding regarding what they can do, what they can change and what they have to accept.

The sensory basket can be one of many new sensory experiences little people can be introduced to which can allow the “blank slate” of the mind to flourish and to be filled with endless learning and knowledge.

When we realised that a child's brain undergoes the largest and most significant development from birth to three and due to this it produces more than a million neural connections each second, it made us realise the importance of ensuring that we provided our own children with the opportunities to engage in new learning experiences. We wanted to find a way where we could introduce daily new experiences to allow biology and the environment to unite and to allow our children to develop and discover themselves, others and the world.

Thus we realised the importance of the sensory basket and in particular a zero plastic sensory basket. We wanted to enable our little people to play with natural elements to learn and discover their sense of self and the real world through the earth's natural materials rather than the artificial sheen that plastic offers them. Our own personal experiences as parents has allowed us to experience the absolute joy when we watch our little ones begin to discover all the richness that the world has to offer as well as to begin to experience the tapestry of emotions that we can access as human beings.

The importance of utilising this period of development is so important that this made our passion for zero plastic sensory baskets grow to a point where we wanted to share it with our family, friends and now through the development of hollyandjoe.co.uk as many little people as possible.

Why a zero plastic sensory basket?

The original idea for a zero plastic sensory basket came from a desire to reduce our plastic content in our everyday life as we try hard to ensure we leave behind a healthy planet for our little people. As parents we looked at our children's toys and their favourite toys of their sensory baskets and we decided we wanted them to explore the natural textures, smells and sounds that the world has to offer and not just feel the glossy sheen of plastic that ends up in our landfills and is slowly contributing to environmental destruction.

Too often are we presented with shiny plastic toys which do not depict or reflect all the wonderful materials that the world has and so this sensory basket is full of natural materials that are either sustainable, recyclable or can be reused - they are waiting for your little one to begin their journey and tap into the pleasure of learning.

We have also tried to purchase and sell items that are good quality and can be reused which is the case with our children. We have now passed the sensory basket down to our youngest child although we have continued to add new and interesting items too.

There are also multiple uses for these items not only for your child to explore with all their senses and play with but for us as caregivers too. For example with my older child we have also used her sensory basket items (once they had a wash) to bake with and so they grow with her. We have also used her scourers to clean my pots with once she had finished with them, again allowing them to be reused before they are composted and therefore never entering landfill!

The wonder and multi-purpose nature of sensory baskets never ceases to amaze us and we love watching each individual child play and explore it differently. We believe that as caregivers we learn so much about our child by watching them play and explore.

We have also carefully selected sensory toys which do not contain any plastic content within them. All the toys we have chosen have sensory elements to them and can be added to your little one’s sensory basket. They are beautiful, from sustainable materials, ethical and are well made and designed that they are timeless pieces and can be revisited again and again and incorporated into new play and sensory activities and experiences. 

We hope you enjoy your sensory basket or sensory items as much as both of us and our little people have. It has been a wonderful adventure for us sourcing and making these items and we thank you for supporting our little family business in the hills!

Delve in and explore, see what happens! We would love to hear your stories and little ones journeys with their sensory baskets! If you would like to share please email us at: infor@hollyandjoe.co.uk and we can share them on our blog and social media to allow other little people find new ways of using these wonderful multi purpose baskets.

Information about the senses

These baskets focus on the 4 senses of touch, sight, sound and scent.

We have not added the sense of taste to these baskets, this will come when you embark on  your weaning journey with your little one and hence there are no elements of taste anywhere in these baskets. We recommend you seek professional advice or information from the NHS when planning your weaning journey with your little people. However, we have decided to sell some teething toys so that your little one can safely put these in their mouths and chew to help them when their teeth are rumbling  They are all made from 100% organic rubber from the sap of the Hevea tree in Spain and Lanco have been making teethers and toys in this way since 1952. These can be seen in the sensory toy section of the sensory toy section of our website: https://www.hollyandjoe.co.uk/collections/lanco

Texture and sight

We have spent a lot of time researching and experimenting with beautiful natural textures to allow your little one to feel connected to the elements of our earth ! From the rough to the smooth, from the light to the heavy there are so many textures for your little one to run their fingers (and toes) over, watch them connect with these elements and learn as they discover and play.

 All of these items stimulate the sense of sight too and we have in some of these items injected some bright colours to stimulate your child's imagination and creativity. Every Little person’s journey and sense of discovery with their sensory basket is unique and personalised, that is where the magic lies and in doing so makes the sensory basket an item that continues to inspire wonderment.


One of the first senses that a baby in the womb experiences is the sense of sound. Babies can hear their mother’s heartbeat, can recognise familiar voices and sense vibration. There is also research to show that if music is played regularly to the baby in the womb that the baby can recognise this music after birth and also that the music played when the baby is in the womb can help certain areas of the brain develop!

The powerful sense of sound is with us from when we are in the womb and this continues into early years development and into adulthood too.

Further research shows that when little people are exposed and play and learn music that it helps certain areas of the brain develop and can help the development of other cognitive and intellectual skills. Different emotions can also be experienced when listening to or playing music and we as adults can recall certain songs or sounds that we associate with past emotional experiences, it is undoubtedly the same for our little people in their experience of emotions.

And finally, not forgetting the obvious, listening to and playing music or just plain and simple noise making is fun!!!

Whether it is banging pans together, listening to music, singing, or playing the wonderful instruments that little people love, the benefits of musical exposure are immeasurable!

You can incorporate sound into your basket by adding some musical items into a general senses basket or you might want to choose one of our ready made music baskets. Our music baskets and instruments offer value and longevity and will continue to engage your little ones for years to come!


Scent is a sense that often gets forgotten about in a play environment and yet from research and our own experience with scents it is such as powerful sense. For example we can all recall a memory or experience where a certain scent has reminded us of a situation or certain person and then has flooded our mind with wonderful rich memories Just the other day I was cooking with coriander and was taken back to our wonderful foodie adventures in India! Or smelling rosemary allows me to recall the wonderful memories of exploring all the herbs in my Grandma’s garden when I was a little one myself!

Even though our little people cannot yet verbally articulate how they are feeling, watching them interact with the scents  and express a different range of emotions across their faces when they are smelling different scents is just magical!

I like to imagine what memories will be associated with smells for them too!

The doors to the world of sensory play are opening, let your little one feel, see, hear and smell their way into the senses of the earth…

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