Easy Tuff Tray Ideas

The tuff tray is by far one of the best things we have bought for the children as it provides an endless amount of activities. Its perfect for sensory play and helps them develop problem solving skills, early mathematics and colours.

Its brilliant for crafts, imaginative play and even science experiments! You can really go all out and explore different themes.

What is a tuff tray?

It is approximately 1 metre in diameter and it’s basically a large heavy duty plastic tray with raised sides, making it perfect for messy play and activities. They are often used by nurseries and childcare settings due to their versatile nature – but they’re also perfect for use at home!

You can buy tuff tray stands which are adjustable in height and make the tray even more versatile. It gives them a proper little worktop where they can stand or pull up little chairs.

How can I use my tuff tray

You can set up anything inside your tray – from toys, train tracks to messy play. Simple water, sand or drawing activities are a fond favourite for our children. I set up the tray and invite the children in to explore and investigate the scene. They love it!

Easy Activity Ideas

Rock Painting

A super easy activity that only requires some paints and some rocks. You can add glitter and eyes if you wish! There’s loads of ideas for rock painting on Pinterest if you want some inspiration.

Water Tuff Tray

Another super easy one, I fill buckets and jugs full of water and place them on the tray with some kitchen utensils, bath toys and watering cans. This literally keeps them entertained all day.

The tuff tray itself turns into a big puddle that they can splash in! When children jump in water, they are enhancing their gross motor skills by using the larger muscle groups in their arms, legs and feet to make big movements with their body. They are helping to support their balance, coordination and work on their overall strength.

Foam Explosion

This is a bit of a messy one, so I would only attempt it outside on a sunny day! The Moudable Foam is so much fun! The buckets are full of sea animals that they have to search for and count. This obviously helps with their counting and knowledge of animals and fish!


Most households have play-doh, we make our play-doh tough trays a bit more exciting by changing the themes. This one is an ice cream theme. Again, we use kitchen utensils and cookie cutters from the pound shop to create a different experience each time.

Playing with Playdoh helps support fine motor skills in their little fingers, hands and wrists as they pick up the playdoh and mold it to the desired shapes. Its so good for hand eye coordination and muscle strenghtening. Plus it helps them get their creative juices flowing!

Baby washing station

My 3 year old is baby mad, so this is one of her absolute favourites. She undresses, bathes, dries and dresses each dolly one by one. Changing their little nappies as she plays.

Under The Sea

These aqua beads are non toxic and biodegradable (but i would use them in an area thats easy to sweep up after!) .

They are quite little so perfect for little hands to work on their grip and excellent for developing fine motor skills.

Construction Zone

This super easy sensory play is suitable for any age. The tray is filled with construction vehicles and food. Here I’ve used porridge, bread sticks and broken up weetabix. Messy play helps young children develop their early motor skills. During Messy play children practice coordinating their fine motor skills by combining muscles together when scooping, grabbing and picking up different objects and textures.

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