Treasure Box Curriculum

As educators, we all know how critically important it is for students to learn through play but we struggle with how to integrate play into the classroom setting. The fast-paced environment, academic demands & constant assessments leave little room for creativity. At The Beautiful Stuff Project, we’ve created the Treasure Box Curriculum, a model for success that’s efficient, easy to use & low cost, ensuring that play is on the classroom schedule regularly.

What began as an experiment with one teacher in the Somerville, MA Public Schools has expanded to serve hundreds of young students each week. Our growth is completely teacher-driven only growing because teachers directly request us to come to their classrooms. Our Treasure Boxes level the playing field because they’re equally accessible to all children regardless of background, ability, experiences or challenges. 

A basic overview of the treasure box journey:

Modeling play & exploration for teachers & students sets all up for success

modeling- the magic begins

How we think about materials reflects how we think about children & their learning. At TBSP, we value process over product & are highly intentional with how we curate our Treasure Boxes, strategically using recycled materials from our storefront that acknowledge children’s natural play inclinations insuring success. When first working with a classroom, we focus on explicitly modeling how to use a treasure box. We encourage careful exploration of each and every treasure, using our senses to discover materials along with how to play & experiment. We incorporate read aloud for inspiration, specialized Treasure Boxes that correspond to curriculum standards, observational drawing and journaling. This is as much an introduction for students as it is for teachers, which is why we also offer Professional Development opportunities to learn more about the Treasure Box Curriculum. Contact our Educational Program Director, Marina Seevak, to get started.

Children engage their treasures by stacking, balancing & exploring

exploration

Inviting children to play using words like ‘create’ & ‘make’ leaves many openings for them to define the work. Will they build up? Will they lay things flat? Will they arrange a miniature house or design a fishing rod? This requires children to engage in critical thinking, searching for strategies to make these decisions. Rather than following given steps towards a predetermined goal, the child herself is challenged with a question of purpose—what do I want to do?—followed by a question of method—how will I do it? Thus, she is asked to both define a problem & then solve it. Beautiful stuff becomes a process of experimentation, a series of challenges, hypotheses, trials, & reflections. These problems may be mathematical, social, spatial, or otherwise, interwoven throughout the experience.

A young student deepens his learning by drawing his creation in a journal

engaged learners

Imagine kids spontaneously practicing academic skills through play. A classroom environment where our youngest learners become powerful thinkers through exploration, investigation & creation. Where problem-solving is achieved through experimentation, prosocial behavior shaped through collaboration, & where everyday objects such as beads, buttons & boxes become charismatic robots, towering cityscapes, “battery-operated” flashlights & flying cars. We impact the dispositions of young learners. Our work inspires joy & thus is creating readier & more engaged learners. By implementing our curriculum at such a young age we are insuring more equity across the board. Contact our Educational Program Director, Marina Seevak, to learn more.

Watching the children explore, I see them doing many different things such as: sorting, trial and error, counting, symmetry, balancing. Very important concepts that they are doing, without even realizing they are doing them!
— Teacher, Somerville Public Schools
I didn’t want to come to school today…I forgot we had Beautiful Stuff. I’m glad I came!
— Kindergartner