If there is something we are passionate about here at The Learning Hub, it’s play!  There are different forms of play, but lately we have heard a lot of exciting talk about heuristic play. 

To find out more we recently connected with Rosalind Potter who has developed a wonderful business ‘Imagine Box’ providing families with resources to inspire heuristic play.  Rosalind was good enough to answer our questions below and tell us more about her exciting business. 

heuristic play

What is Heuristic play?

Heuristic play is the core of a child’s curiosity to explore an object and to discover what it can do. When you were young do you remember playing with a wooden spoon or a pinecone for ages? If so then you are already an expert! If not it’s easy to pick up.

In a world, full of plastic and fast paced digital objects it’s important for your little one to be given the opportunity to discover natural objects in their own time and space, as it enhances their development. Play is how children best make sense of the world; it also gives children a chance to be in control in a world where they have little control over anything else.


Can you tell us more about your exciting business ‘Imagine Box’?

Imagine Box is a Heuristic Play and Educational box full of objects for infants and toddlers to explore. It encourages them to use their imagination.

At Imagine Box we believe that children need opportunities to create their own play with toys that are not plastic and that have pre-determined out comes.

These boxes are designed to enrich a child’s development and help to create growth. Included in the box are instructions to use the box for heuristic play as well as some specific activities that are based on ‘Te Whariki’ New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum. The activities are designed for infants (0-18 months) and toddlers (1-3 years). However, with a clever adult the box can be used with young children (2.5 years to school age) as well.

There are over 18 different types of objects and over 45 objects all up. The objects are a mixture of natural and man-made items. It includes objects with different textures, weights, sizes, malleability, sounds, and colours to provide diverse opportunities for a child.

As much as possible we support local and NZ made. The Boxes are hand crafted and made locally by Pioneer Wooden Toys and hand stamped with stamps made locally by Stamps Plus and my logo is applied by Inspired Prints NZ.

  • Driftwood flat with at least 4 holes drilled in it to fit ribbon thru.
  • Driftwood thin of a different texture.
  • Rocks x 2 of different size, colour or texture
  • Shells x 2 different types
  • Pinecone
  • Ribbon 2 meters
  • Dolly Pegs x 6
  • Pipe cleaners x 10 a mixture of colours
  • Survival blanket
  • Netting 15cm sq
  • Sheep skin with wool on
  • Possum Fur
  • Silicon Muffin Cups x 3 a mixture of colours
  • Jewellery Box – Velvet
  • Velcro 15cm strip with both hook and loop sides
  • Paua Shell
  • Climbing Rope or Rope that won’t unravel 20cm
  • Wooden spoon 22cm
  • Wooden Doll
  • Ice Cream Sticks x 10 a mixture of colours


We know that in today’s society there are a lot of busy & tired parents, grandparents, carers & educators who would love to compile something like this for their children but just don’t have the time.

I have taken the time to ensure that there is a mixture of different items that are relevant to the ECE curriculum. An important part of my product is the booklet that I have created that has activities that are linked to the 2017 curriculum, are age specific and use the items that are in the box.

The boxes are hand crafted and have a sliding lid and two holes one that fits an adults hand and one a child’s hand, it’s made strong enough so that your child can sit on it.


How can parents or caregivers set it up for children?

You can either purchase an Imagine Box off me, create your own or there are a few other small businesses in NZ that you can also support.

If your creating your own here are a few ideas to get you started.

Use a box or basket that will fit all your contents into it and is safe and practical for your child.

Your aim is to get a mixture of textures, colours, shapes & sizes. For safety reasons please ensure the things you collect are age appropriate for your child and safe.


How can we keep children safe with different play resources?

Some of the objects are natural products that occur in nature.  If any part of any object becomes broken discontinue use.

Use your common sense while supervising and if any object breaks or cracks discontinue use or use it at your own risk.

Every child plays with toys differently due to their development, age, personality or mood. A toy that one child will use safely may not be safe for another. As the parent or caregiver, you are the best judge of where your child’s development is and must take responsibility by removing any object that you perceive as a danger to your child.

There are some items that are ideal for teaching your child safe use of items, one of the activities is based around this concept. If your child has the object unsupervised they could potentially cause harm, to teach your child how to safely use the objects they need to be exposed to them under supervision. For example, the ribbon – showing how to wrap it around objects, not your body, rocks – don’t throw them indoors, only in certain outdoor settings away from people.

All items should be larger than a film canister, no sharp edges or bits that will break off that could be swallowed. I also recommend washing and scrubbing all natural items with a brush in warm water with a natural dishwashing liquid and then giving it a rinse in vinegar.

  1. Present it in a quiet environment away from other toys and distractions.
  2. Be present to keep it safe.
  3. Sit back and observe and let them be in control.
  4. Put it out only a few times a week to keep it a special experience.
  5. Add safe kitchen and household items for variety.
  6. Change the contents of the box on a regular basis or just keep adding to it, collecting things from places you go is a great way to remember all those adventures you go on.
  7. Most of all have fun!!


Thank you so much to Rosalind Potter for sharing her knowledge and experience of heuristic play with us here at The Learning Hub.  You can find out more about Imagine Box and how to get one for your family here: www.imaginebox.co.nz

Connect with Rosalind on Facebook @imagine.box.play

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