The approach was developed to provide parents and caregivers of children from birth through three years old with a simple, practical way to nurture learning through play. Based on the understanding that many parents do not have the opportunity or are not able to read complex research documents and popular literature and teaching curricula, the materials are designed to nurture literacy in the parents' native language while teaching essential information about child development and early learning. The materials have been developed by The Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) and Laubach Literacy in collaboration with the College of Family Life of Utah State University.
The approach has been successfully piloted with parents, caregivers and family support staff in a Migrant Head Start program in Utah, Healthy Families of America programs in Chicago, Illinois and El Paso, Texas; a hospital outreach program; and as part of a "full service public school" program in Chicago,Illinois. Internationally, the Learning Basket approach has been used in rural villages in Paraguay, in rural and urban settings in Haiti, in an orphanage in Romania, and with health promoters in Mexico. The Play to Learn book has been translated into Spanish, Haitian Creole, Romanian, Albanian, and Serbian.
Funding for Learning Basket programs has been provided by individual donors, the Seabury Foundation, the Polk Brothers foundation, LDS Charieties, Save the Children Albania, and local Head Start, Migrant Head Start, and Healthy Families programs.
Handwork has been provided by elders communities, basket weaving guilds, church organizations, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, parents, grandparents, and interested individuals.