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Easy Tuff Tray Ideas For Sensory Play

Easy Tuff Tray Ideas For Sensory Play

Posted on: Sunday 21 January 2024

A tuff tray set up with a book called 'It's Mine' then a mat set out with various wooden or soft animals on the mat or hidden underneath leaves on the mat

from above POV of a tuff tray filled with water, bubbles and foam with various buckets and pourers in it

Bobby's Christmas present from my Grandma this year was a tuff tray because I've been dying to try out some of the amazing ideas I've seen on Pinterest and in Facebook groups. I've seen entire farms made from various materials, underwater masterpieces and car washes for toy trucks. While I had visions of recreating these sorts of ideas, the reality is I'm usually after something a little quicker to set up and easier to clean up especially while Bobby is at the age where he can be kept busy with a bowl of water and a spoon for a good ten minutes so the grander creations will probably be more appropriate when he's a bit older. 

That was one way of me saying don't expect anything amazing and grand from the following ideas; what you're getting from me is some quick and easy set ups that will hopefully keep your toddler entertained for a bit while you manage to clean/cook/have a rest! (Or joining in is also quite fun I have to say). Also bear in mind that my little boy is 16 months so these are ideas for younger toddlers.

FOAM/WATER // I don't know what it is about it, but kids just love water don't they? I filled our tuff tray with a mixture of water and foam (blended half and half water with bubble bath) then added various jugs from the bath and utensils from the play kitchen and it kept Bobby busy for a good half hour just pouring and stirring. He also came away from the activity a lot less wet than I'd expected!

PAINT // I'm sure there are plenty of very imaginative ways to do paint play in a tuff tray, but the only time I've done it myself I simply splodged (is that a word?) different coloured paints around the tray and spread out some paper, a bit of bubblewrap I had going spare from Christmas and various brushes and tools. At Bobby's age that's all he really needs to keep him entertained painting wise, but my Pinterest board is full of ideas for older toddlers for when he's ready! 

HOMEMADE PLAYDOUGH // I followed this playdough recipe for making my own playdough. I can't really comment on how good the recipe is as it's the only one I've tried; it didn't feel like the playdough of my youth, but I didn't really expect it to and it seemed to do the job! I only made one ball to try because I didn't want to commit if Bobby didn't even enjoy it, and I popped that in his tuff tray along with some wooden utensils he got for Christmas so he could roll, stir and chop to his heart's content!

OATS // Oh man oats is a messy one, but my little boy absolutely loves it. The set up is similar to the water one, but with less jugs and more utensils. He just loves scooping them up into containers then tipping them out again, it really keeps him occupied for ages. It does, however, result in lots of oats on the floor, which then end up sticking to little socks and being trampled round the house too. I'd say it's worth it. Also make sure you save your oats in a tub somewhere as 'play oats' so they don't go to waste (I just wouldn't recommend eating them...)

BOOKS // My little boy absolutely loves books and there are so many cute little set ups you can do with a book or two and some props. Luckily I have a very talented mum and for Christmas she bought him some books and some props (including some handmade ones) to go with them. You'd be surprised how well toys you already have can fit in with stories too. The set up in the photo (above) was using the book 'It's Mine!' by Rod Campbell with a hand sewn (by my mum) mat with flaps to hide animals underneath. For the animals I used a mixture of soft toys and wooden animals my little boy already has. We've started doing this as a first thing in the morning activity and it's a very cute way to start the day. 

Amy x


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