Heuristic Play for babies and toddlers
February 06, 2023

Heuristic Play for babies and toddlers

Heuristic Play and Wooden Utensils

Heuristic play is a term coined by child psychologist Elinor Goldschmeid in the early 1980’s.  It is an enriching type of play where babies and toddlers interact with a variety of everday objects, not toys.

The objects can be a wide range of objects, pots and pans, pine cones, cotton reels, the cardboard rolls inside a paper towel roll or wooden pegs to name a few. The key is that they have a range of shapes, colours and textures that babies and toddlers can explore. Heuristic play is a sensory play where they use multiple senses of touch, sound, sight, smell and taste to explore different objects. Heuristic play allows children to  handle things: to gather, fill, dump, stack, knock down, select and manipulate in other ways

Put the different in a basket or for older toddlers on a large tray  and then simply watch and supervise the children, watching what they do, making sure they are safe, being a reassuiing presence while they explore ,but not interacting or instructing or even asking questions.

These are done maybe a couple of times a week, for maybe 30 minutes so the toddlers do not get bored.


Some of our smaller items such as the teaspoons, the honey dippers, plates, spoons, are all wonderful additions to heuristic play sets. Made of teak they are strong and do not splinter so are safe for children. At the same time they have beautiful grains in the wood and have a distinctive tactile sensation. With no chemicals or lacquers used making them they are safe if the child puts them in their mouths.