Tuesday, 7 May 2019

19 Tuff Spot Tray Activities for open ended Play

I love our tuff tray, (probably even more than the children do), and although it can be a challenge to set them up sometimes - I love the wow factor a new tray activity brings to young children and how excited and enthusiastic they are to go and explore straight away! I know that my carefully laid resources will be scattered around within minutes, but honestly, that's the beauty of it. A well played with tuff tray, where learning opportunities arise, does not come from children feeling like they can't touch, move, reorder or explore. A day without some 'mess' has usually been an unproductive one....


images of tuff spot tray activities with text 19 tuff spot tray activities for open ended play


I often post new tuff tray ideas over on my Instagram or my Facebook page - usually they never make it into a blog post because I'm just too excited to share our learning straight away! Please pop over and give me a follow if you'd like to keep up to date with new activities.  You can also subscribe to my blog here. I've picked out 19 of our current favourites here for you to enjoy and feel inspired!


Here are our favourite tuff spot tray activities for open ended learning through play


Hot Chocolate Station Tuff Tray 


hot chocolate tuff tray with coco pops mini marshmallows and plastic cups

This is one of our all time favourites, using coco pops, mini marshmallows, sprinkles, cups, scoops and trays to fill and pour! See the Instagram post below for more info...







Well today was a little bit of a write off due to Arthur being poorly, but yesterday afternoon we had lots of fun at our hot chocolate activity station ... this was an extension of our day a few weeks ago where we investigated and learnt where hot chocolate comes from. . Arthur loved filling and pouring the 'hot chocolate' before adding marshmallows on top... and of course, 'drinking' it up!! . This activity is great for counting out how many marshmallows you would like on top, and using mathematical language such as 'one more' and 'one less'...I had to pay for mine too - £330!!! CHEERS! ☕️🍫 . . . #tuffspotideas #tuffspotactivity #yorkshirebloggers #pblogger #ukparentbloggers #kcacols #earlyyears #earlyyearsideas #eyfs #eyfsideas #eyfsteacher #watchthemlearn #roleplay #toddlerplay #invitationtoplay #importanceofplay #playideas #activityideas #activityoftheday #sensoryplay #stimulatinglearning #dailyparenting #gentlemama #kidstagram #Learningathome #learningthroughplay #playbasedlearning #eyfsmaths #numberactivity



Being a Builder Tuff Tray Activity


builder tuff tray with duplo bricks, diggers, shaving foam cement and a trowel

This was an activity we set up whilst our playroom extension was being built! Arthur had a builder's vest on and we used duplo bricks, diggers, shaving foam and squirty cream for the cement (in a tiny wheel barrow with a trowel!) and cornflour soil. lots of lovely, messy, builder play...




Chocolate Playdough Tuff Tray Activity


chocolate playdough tuff tray with chocolate moulds and playdough tools

This was an activity we set up during a week of learning all about chocolate! Read below for more info...






Carrying on our chocolate theme we made chocolate playdough 😍 . Making the playdough itself allows for some really good conversations around maths and number - counting the ingredients into the bowl, sequencing, weighing and measuring, noticing changes. . Once the playdough was made we used our senses to explore the dough before makes 'chocolates' in different shapes. Loads of opportunities to utilise those fine and gross motor skills too! . If your little one doesn't like getting their hands dirty you can also pop the dough into a food bag like we did and have a good squash, squeeze and poke... . Oh and to make this super easy - we just added cocoa to the dough mixture = the right colour and smell! . . . #yorkshirebloggers #pblogger #mblogger #ukparentbloggers #playideas #learningthroughplay #learningopportunity #playdoughfun #chocolateplaydough #eyfs #eyfsmaths #eyfsideas #eyfsteacher #earlyyears #earlyyearsideas #watchthemlearn #roleplay #tuffspotideas #tuffspotactivity #toddlerlife #toddlerplay #importanceofplay #kcacols #dailyparenting #sensoryplay #activityideas #activityoftheday #numberactivity #messyplayideas



Rainbow Rice Tuff Tray Activity



rainbow rice tuff tray with different coloured rice in a tray with scoops and tools



We did this activity in a little sand tray tub outside, before we purchased our tuff tray - but my fellow Blogger, Jules from Pondering Parenthood has a brilliant example of how to make a 'wow' looking rainbow rice tuff tray here 







Well...yesterday we made the rice and let it dry outside, last night I set up the activity ready for when he had finished his post nursery nap this afternoon....this morning he found the activity in my (admittedly awful) hiding place under the kitchen table 5 mins before we had to leave and then refused to go to nursery πŸ™ˆ... I now have a kitchen floor full of rainbow 🌈 rice 🍚 and a toddler who is still asleep because he also refused to have his nap on time too lol! All the best laid plans....he loves this though!!!!! πŸ’•πŸ˜‚ ... ... ... ... #eyfs #learningthroughplay #rainbowrice #toddleractivity #activityoftheday #playtime #playandlearn #sensoryplay #sensoryactivity #tuffspotideas #tuffspotactivity #kcacols #ukparentbloggers #parentbloggeruk #pblogger #mblogger #teachandlearn




Messy Play Tuff Tray Activity


messy play tuff tray with shaving foam, powder paint, water, cornflour

I'd probably recommend doing this one outside, with protective clothing (Arthur is wearing a splash suit!) it is super messy, but loads of fun. Lot of resources to experiment with such as 
shaving foam, powder paint, cornflour and water...





Sticky Tuff Spot Tray Activity



tack back plastic tuff tray with leaves and natural found resources stuck on


I stuck tacky back plastic, or contact paper as it is also known, sticky side up onto the tuff tray. After walking on it with bare feet, Arthur collected natural resources fro the garden to stick down.





Digger destruction Tuff Tray Activity



digger tuff tray with weetabix to carry around and destruct

A very simple but effective tuff tray, i simple bought some weetabix alternatives which could be crushed and carried and built with and allowed Arthur to play and explore.






Seaside Tuff Tray Activity



seaside scene tuff tray with sandpaper sand, shells and natural resources and blue material under bubble wrap for the sea

A seaside scene set up for this tuff tray. See instagram info below for more information on this one...











Potion Making Tuff Tray Activity


potion making tuff tray with potion bottles, pipettes, rainbow test tubes



For more information on this tuff tray and the resources involved, please have a look at my rainbow test tubes tuff tray post here







Clearly we are a little obsessed by the rainbow test tubes! Arthur loved filling them up using a pipette for our Rose activity (see previous) and he was desperate to do this again. I ordered a few extra bits to extend this activity, including these coloured pipettes and these plastic potion/mixology jars (great for spell making or perfume making activities too!!) . Today's #activityoftheday was to transfer the water from one coloured test tube to the same coloured test tube (we have 2 sets) using the right coloured pipette. Once this was complete he was then able to either use the pipettes to fill the jars or carefully pour the water from a test tube into a jar. . Great for motor control by attempting filling and pouring without spilling any (we've yet to master this!). Also really good for colour matching and really concentrating on the task, selecting and using the right equipment. . . The test tubes were an amazon purchase available here (al): http://amzn.to/2iHt3Ym and the pipettes and jars are both recommended products to go alongside the test tubes, so easy to find using this link. . If you are trying this activity yourself don't forget to model the language as you show your child how to do the activity...tiny minds take in this kind of information better when they are having fun and are stimulated to learn 😊 . . . #tuffspotideas #tuffspotactivity #invitationtoplay #stimulatinglearning #kcacols #pblogger #watchthemlearn #Learningathome #learningthroughplay #earlyyearsideas #eyfsideas #learningbydoing #playideas #importanceofplay #earlyyears #eyfs #activityideas #toddleractivity #toddlerplay #messyplayideas #sensoryplayideas #childdevelopment #playingtolearn #importanceofplay #earlyyearsteacher #pretendplay #teachersofinstagram #earlyyearseducation #teacherblogger #waterplay




Herbs and Spices Tuff Tray Activity



herbs and spices tuff tray with natural wooden bowls, pots, spoons, scoops and pestle


A lovely sensory play experience, using herbs and spices from the kitchen and the garden! This was so inviting, and was played with for days! 











Loose Parts and Shiny Things Tuff Tray Activity



tuff tray with lots of silver and metal containers with shiny loose parts

One of our absolute favourites - lots of shiny resources and loose parts to explore and enhance language.... ( See my post on developing language for more ideas on this subject)






Invitation to play: Today's activity included lots of loose parts and shiny silver, bronze and stainless steel containers I have been collecting from the local charity shops πŸ˜ƒ . The giant diamond πŸ’Ž gems were a hit, and the pearls and beads in the smaller pot were a brilliant pouring opportunity. I'm not going to pretend that they haven't ended up on the floor, along with the sparkly shreds, on numerous occasions today! . Scroll across the photos for some close ups of the different parts. The silver tea set is definitely my personal favourite and I can't wait to get this activity set up outside in the water tray once the weather is a little warmer πŸ’¦ . So many learning opportunities with this, lots of new language, estimating, counting, questioning and using the senses πŸ€“ . . . #eyfsinspiration #eyfsideas #eyfsteacher #eyfsactivity #eyfstwitterpals #earlyyearsideas #earlyyearseducation #loosepartsplay #looseparts #invitationtoplay #watchthemlearn #learningthroughplay #learningopportunity #playingtolearn #playbasedlearning #playideas #tufftrayideas #tuffspot #tuffspotideas #tuffspotactivity #tuffspotideas #tufftrayplay #teachersofinstagram #mumsthatgotthis #bloggingtogetheruk #kcacols #activityoftheday #toddleractivity #toddlerplay #sensoryplay




Phonics sound matching Tuff Tray Activity



phonics tuff tray with phonics stones and small animals to match

Some phonics stones all set up for Arthut to sound match the little animals - he loved this challenge! The pebbles are available in my Amazon store here.







A new little activity for Arthur today as he has been really interested in matching letter sounds to names and objects so I put lots of different mini animals on the tuff spot tray and made an alphabet rainbow with the sounds. We checked the sounds together first and I then demonstrated putting an animal underneath the initial sound before leaving him to have a go himself. He really enjoyed this activity and we ended up having to talk about the digraphs /ow/ and /sh/ as well as he wanted to know where he should put his owl and his shark 🦈 . . These sound stones are something I used a lot in school so I bought some for home in lower case which you can find here (affiliate link): https://amzn.to/2Ku84Jp . The grass is some artificial grass that I cut to size to fit inside the tuffspot. . . This activity also doubles up as a small world role play activity, the sound stones just add an extra challenge for children who are looking to extend their play and learning. . . . #invitationtoplay #watchthemlearn #Learningathome #learningthroughplay #earlyyearsideas #eyfsideas #learningbydoing #playideas #importanceofplay #earlyyears #eyfs #activityideas #toddleractivity #toddlerplay #sensoryplayideas #childdevelopment #playingtolearn #importanceofplay #earlyyearsteacher #pretendplay #teachersofinstagram #earlyyearseducation #teacherblogger #teachershare #teachersfollowteachers #stimulatinglearning #kcacols #pblogger #phonicsplay #literacy




Heuristic Play Tuff Tray



heuristic play tuff tray with real copper and silver tea pots, cups, sugar bowls and trinkets

Lots of lovely, real life objects such as tea pots, silverware trinkets, cups, pots and sugar bowls, keys and jewellery for Charlotte to explore, fill and pour...







LEARNING THROUGH PLAY - we’ve revisited an old favourite today, except this time Charlotte gets to explore. Lots of these resources are technically too small for a 1 year old but she loves to play with teeny tiny things and is developing her fine motor skills and pincer grip so this is a highly supervised activity! (Which suits her fine, she already pulled up two stools - one for her and one for me 😊) . Most of these resources are charity shop finds, a few are from my amazon store. . If you want to have a look in more detail, head over to my stories today to see a close up of play. I’ll add them to my EYFS highlights on my profile for later πŸ’‹ . .ps: pop over to the blog if you fancy reading my research piece on why year 1 should still have learning through play opportunities . . . #Learningathome #learningthroughplay #earlyyearsideas #eyfsideas #learningbydoing #playideas #importanceofplay #earlyyears #eyfs #activityideas #toddleractivity #toddlerplay #toddlerinvestigations #activityfortoddlers #activityoftheday #sensoryplay #invitationtoplay #messyplayideas #tuffspot #tuffspotideas #tuffspotactivity #sensoryplayideas #physicaldevelopment #finemotorskills #childdevelopment #playingtolearn #importanceofplay #learn #teach #earlyyearsteacher




Wooden Resources Tuff Tray Activity



wooden resources tuff tray with wodden disks, acorns, pots, bowls, beads and utensils

One of my favourite tuff trays, lots of wooden and natural resources to explore, scoop, fill, pour and play with - offering a language rich activity for young children when extended byn an adult...







Tomorrow’s provocation πŸ‚πŸŒΎ . #Tufftray setup focusing on natural, mainly wooden materials...including painted wooden acorns, rainbow wooden discs, wooden beads, pots, containers and utensils and those amazing wooden eggs I showed you a few weeks ago 😍 . This is for an open ended activity for both Arthur and Charlotte to explore independently (Although obviously supervised due to small parts) - I usually observe how they play and then extend their learning via questions, challenges or giving new language 😊 . . . . . #Learningathome #learningthroughplay #earlyyearsideas #eyfsideas #learningbydoing #playideas #importanceofplay #earlyyears #eyfs #activityideas #toddleractivity #toddlerplay #toddlerinvestigations #activityfortoddlers #activityoftheday #sensoryplay #invitationtoplay #tuffspot #tuffspotideas #tuffspotactivity #sensoryplayideas #physicaldevelopment #finemotorskills #childdevelopment #playingtolearn #importanceofplay #learn #teach #earlyyearsteacher




Ice Melting Investigation Tuff Tray Activity



ice investigation tuff tray with a frozen hand, ice cubes, salt, coloured water and tools


More info below on this activity, which involved a range of resources in order to melt the ice and rescue the pompoms....







ICE INVESTIGATION - this was a fab activity for a 10 yr old, 4 yr old and 1 yr old to do together as they all accessed this in different ways. The challenge was to get the mini pom-poms out of the ice by figuring out how to make it melt as quickly as possible. There were lots of different resources available which you can see - including salt, sugar, coloured water, warm water and cold water and various tools. This is a really good activity to see how children can collaborate and work together, testing their ideas without worrying about ‘getting it wrong’. . . . NB: Ice applied to skin which has been in contact with salt can cause burns. Use a dispenser to drop the salt onto the ice from a height and observe without touching. . . : . . #watchthemlearn #Learningathome #learningthroughplay #earlyyearsideas #eyfsideas #learningbydoing #playideas #importanceofplay #earlyyears #eyfs #activityideas #toddleractivity #toddlerplay #messyplayideas #sensoryplayideas #childdevelopment #playingtolearn #importanceofplay #earlyyearsteacher #pretendplay #teachersofinstagram #earlyyearseducation #teacherblogger #teachershare #teachersfollowteachers #invitationtoplay #stimulatinglearning #kcacols #pblogger




Honey Bees Tuff Tray Activity




honey bees tuff tray with mini bees, raw honey, honeycomb, books and playdough



You can find a whole blog post dedicated to the set up, resources and learning opportunities around this honey bees tuff tray activity here







HONEY BEES TUFF TRAY 🐝 . New blog post on our activities and resources for a bees #tufftray activity to support hands on learning and #LearningThroughPlay is now live - includes resources, images and activity ideas 😊 . Which fact books we used, this gorgeous bee print from @krobinsonkey [Ad-previously gifted item], 🍯 honey playdough ideas, acting out the life-cycle of a bee using eggs, bee pollen, mini bees, honey and honeycomb tasting, counting and number ordering, Manuka honey ice pops, honeycomb biscuits and more....pop over to the blog and have a read for all the details and information: https://www.arthurwears.com/2019/03/bees-tuff-tray-activities-learning-through-play.html?m=0 . . . . . #beesactivity #learningaboutbees #Learningathome #learningthroughplay #earlyyearsideas #eyfsideas #learningbydoing #playideas #importanceofplay #earlyyears #eyfs #activityideas #toddleractivity #toddlerplay #toddlerinvestigations #activityfortoddlers #activityoftheday #sensoryplay #invitationtoplay #messyplay #messyplayideas #tuffspot #tuffspotideas #tuffspotactivity #sensoryplayideas #childdevelopment #playingtolearn #importanceofplay #earlyyearsteacher




Ice Cream Role Play Tuff Tray Activity




ice cream role play with vanilla playdough, cones, scoops, moulds and cutters



For more information on how to make your own sensory ice cream playdough, and set up this activity - please have a look at my post - ice cream role play for little people here







Had a little (messy) playroom reshuffle last night and set up an ice cream role play activity for the morning play at breakfast. We are at that stage of “really need to have a sort out” in the playroom as it’s looking a bit messy but I’ve decided to leave it until after the holidays! . I set up different open resource shelves on the right for the children to use and access independently - I’ll add some of them to my insta stories (tap my Instagram profile photo) so that you can see what I mean - I might make this a regular feature on my highlights as a record of different play spaces 😊 . . . . . #playroominspiration #playroom #playroominspo #playroomideas #playtime #kidsatplay #childhoodunplugged #learningenvironment #learningresources #learningthroughplay #earlyyears #playislearning #educationaltoys #imaginativeplay #positiveparenting #earlyyearsideas #homeschooling #playandlearn #letthembelittle #edutoys #eyfs #learningthroughplay #earlyyears #earlychildhoodeducation #teachersofinstagram #eyfsteacher #earlyyearseducation #earlylearning #earlyyearsideas #invitationtoplay #icecreamparlour




Colour Sorting Tuff Tray Activity




colour sorting tuff tray with rainbow test tubes and coloured letters to sort



For more information on this tuff tray and the resources involved, please have a look at my rainbow test tubes tuff tray post here







How fab are these plastic test tubes to provoke little learners!? There are SO many different possibilities for these but we've settled on colour sorting and fine motor skills for today. I was going to use jelly beans or smarties to make this super exciting, but I think I'll use that idea when the novelty wears off and I've got an extra pair of hands at home to deal with the sugar rush (hello husband that's you!) If you want to get a set of these for yourself they are available on amazon here (al*) : http://amzn.to/2iHt3Ym . The helping hands tools are available here: . http://amzn.to/2As7W4q (Pop over to my Facebook page to find clickable links) Happy learning through play 😊 . . . #watchthemlearn #Learningathome #learningthroughplay #earlyyearsideas #eyfsideas #learningbydoing #playideas #importanceofplay #earlyyears #eyfs #activityideas #toddleractivity #toddlerplay #messyplayideas #sensoryplayideas #childdevelopment #playingtolearn #importanceofplay #earlyyearsteacher #pretendplay #teachersofinstagram #earlyyearseducation #teacherblogger #teachershare #teachersfollowteachers #invitationtoplay #stimulatinglearning #kcacols #pblogger






Cafe Role Play Tuff Tray Activity



cafe tearoom tuff tray with silver teapot, plastic champagne glass, fondant famcies and macarons



For more information on this activity, including how to make the resources and which activities to plan, please have a look at my post on Betty's Cafe Tea Room tuff tray activity here

Betty's cafe tea rooms play resources set up on a tuff spot tray with fondant fancies silverware and sandwiches

You can also view a video over on youtube of our cafe role play set up and a play demonstration towards the end:



You can find lots of resources over in my Amazon store to replicate these activities at home: Arthurwears Amazon Store

Sarah x

Looking for more? Take a look at my recent tuff tray - frog pond tuff tray showing the lifecycle of a frog

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19 tuff spot tray activities for open ended learning through play


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1 comment:

  1. So many amazing ideas! I've been umm-ing and ahh-ing over whether to get my boys a tuff tray for ages but I think your post has just persuaded me to go for it!

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