Tuff Trays

63F3CDA5-2C38-4BB6-929F-B35C9128DA7CA Tuff Tray may not look like much at first glance, but the more you play with it, the more it becomes a useful bit of kit because of its almost endless number of activities!  A tuff tray is a heavy duty, plastic tray. The tray itself is octagonal shaped with raised sides that are perfect for containing different materials for all kinds of messy play. They can be used in the home or outside and are very popular in schools, nurseries and preschools.  You can also purchase stands and mat inserts for tuff trays, but they can be expensive.  Tuff trays are best for all ages, usually when a child’s gross and fine motor development is at a stage where they can see, touch and play.  At this age their imaginations are starting to develop. 

Small world themes created are ideal for sparking imagination and play. Mats also help spark the children’s imagination; with a few extra props, children love recreating stories they have heard or making up their own.  Fill the tray with a variety of items linked to a theme such as sea creatures or mini beasts and encourage the children to explore and identify what they can see. It is also a lovely idea to fill the tray with items found on the beach, in the woods or in the back garden. Providing magnifying glasses so that the children can look at the patterns and details helps them to use new vocabulary and share their observations.  Children are fascinated by mirrors and their reflections, so try a plastic mirror insert in the bottom of your tray or mirrored pebbles and jewels.  You could also use pans, spoons and foil blankets. 

A simple activity is to fill the tray with play balls. Babies love to sit in the Tuff Tray amongst all the colourful balls. The balls will often end up all over the room but toddlers can help fill the tray again, both my boys love to help ‘tidy’. Try adding different sensory and messy materials That they can mix, swirl and make marks including letter and number formations.  Children love jelly, hiding toys in the jelly helps to keep children’s attention! Add snowflakes and white confetti for a wintry feel.  The trays are perfect for holding sand and water.  Cereal, rice and pasta can be a fantastic play resource for babies (as long as it is well supervised). This allows babies to explore a range of textures with their hands.  Tuff Trays are great for keeping paint in one area. Filling the tray with a selection of different colours and allowing children to use for foot painting is a fantastic activity,  make sure you hold their hands so they do not slip. Alternatively using their hands, children can make their own marks in the paint and then print using paper.53CAC36F-9261-45C9-9C04-8ADC99012FAEHere are some of my favourite ideas of how to use the tuff tray: 

1. The Farmyard
2. Making A Potato Head
3. Hook A Duck!
4. Sorting objects 
5. PlayDoh Monsters
6. The Magic Tree
7. Underground Cave
8. Gravity Challenge
9. Colouring 
10. Mini Beast World
11. Seed planting 
12. Small world play 
13.Dinosaur Parks
14. Food
15. Reflective Play
16. Ball play
17. Sensory play
18. Mini beasts
19. Threading

It’s worth noting, if you want a stand, make sure it is height adjustable (not only to grow with your child but also for different activities that require the Tuff tray to be at different levels).  A tip I read was that you can make your own mats from off cuts of fabric. You can get a grass effect, flowers, under the sea, fruit and many more.  Also be advised do not leave it outside as the colour can fade and the plastic can warp. Make sure you clean the tiff tray after each use to extend its life.  I hope this gives you some inspiration for play activities and I would love to see your experiences and ideas too.

Much love 
Rebecca13101796-E7DF-4EE9-9B82-013C420A7490

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