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My Top 5 Tuff Tray Ideas


A tuff tray is such a great resource. We use tuff trays at Little Learners classes and I get asked so often where to buy them, and for simple ideas of how to use them at home. Since we are all spending a lot more time at home I thought I would share some ideas. Obviously you don’t need a big tuff tray. There are plenty of smaller trays on the market or even a washing up bowl would be fab too.

  1. Soap & water

An absolute favourite in our house and so simple. My children love filling the tray, adding soap and cleaning! When it comes to their bedrooms however, they are not so keen to clean! This activity is perfect for the garden. I added a few sponges and cleaning cloths. You could add little water sprays or scrubbers too. We had lots and lots of stones which the children decided to clean. We will then let them dry and either paint them or add marks to add to Emilie’s fairy garden. After a while the children moved on to cleaning their garden toys and created a car wash! Lots of fun and quite useful too.

2. Lego

A customer sent me this photo and I thought what a brilliant idea. I have seen Lego mats and sheets but never thought of using a tuff tray. It contains the tiny pieces and allows children to sit in the tray and play. Also avoids you stepping on the tiny and very painful pieces. Lego or Duplo are a great fine motor skills activity.

Using a tuff tray to contain Lego.

3. Sand

A tuff tray can be used as a sand pit too. All you need is sand. A thin layer of sand is perfect for mark making so the children could use a lolly stick, a straw or a brush to make their marks. You could use this with slightly older children too to practise letter and number formation or high frequency words. When using more sand you could build sand castles, make moats and castles and let their imagination run wild. At classes I use both coloured and plain sand. Top tip: add water and washing up liquid to create a sandy mouse. It feels amazing and smells lush.

4. Colour mixing

I did this activity with my children and they loved it. I filled 3 containers with water and a bit of food colouring. I have lots of food colouring that I use in my classes so was able to use the primary colours; red, blue and yellow. I then just asked them how they could make more colours or what would happen if they mixed 2 colours together. The children loved it and the magic awe and wonder really came alive. They discovered how to make orange and purple and yes like all children eventually would, they mixed it all and created a murky brown! A great home schooling activity to learn about primary and secondary colours.

Colour mixing using food colouring and water.

5. Role Play/ Imaginary Play

This is a great one, especially on a rainy day when you may not go out as much. (Note: this would also be perfect to set up in the garden on a sunny day!). I used chalk pens which are fab as they are non toxic and show up really well on tuff trays. You could use chalks as an alternative. My son had a school art project where he was asked to collect a few bits in nature. So on our recent walks we collected twigs, bark, pine cones and crunched up leaves. My 4 year old loved this activity too and it actually got her walking a lot further than usual! To create the scene we picked animals and decided on a farm as a theme. I asked my daughter to mark out the car park for the tractors, adding a perfect mark making opportunity of straight lines. She then marked out the fields and decided to draw a pond. We added oats for the animals to ‘eat’ and the nature walk materials provided a perfect wooded area for the animals. Of course being my daughter these additional characters were added: Grandpa Pig from Peppa, a unicorn and a fairy. A great imaginary play scene.

I wrote this blog to show that you can use very simple resources in tuff trays to make them interesting or create a sense of a ‘new’ and different activity for children to play and most importantly learn through play. We have more great ideas on our YouTube Channel!

I would love to hear your tuff tray ideas. Please do share below as I love reading what others do.

Have fun,

Thank you for reading.

Love Lene x

3 responses to “My Top 5 Tuff Tray Ideas”

  1. Sharon says:

    We make rock pools in the summer with our tuff tray. Water, pebbles, shells and various sea creature toys. The kids can use magnifying glasses to explore and little fishing nets to catch the sea creatures.

  2. Lene Perkin says:

    Thank you Sharon, I love the idea of using a magnifying glass. I’m going to get some. 🙂

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