Monday, 11 May 2020

Dinosaur Island Play Tray | Tuff Spot Ideas

Does your child have a special interest in Dinosaurs? Perhaps you are learning about a dinosaur topic or how dinosaurs have become extinct and would like to create a tuff tray play tray to enhance your learning environment and allow for open ended play and exploration? 

In this post I have a large dinosaur island tuff tray with lots of loose parts, and an alternative smaller scale play tray with dinosaurs past and also dinosaurs present with a special fossil hunting activity!!

Dinosaur Island play tray fossil tuff spot activity

The beauty of loose parts is that children can move and explore all of the objects to create their own scenes, ideas and narratives. Nothing is permanent, so nothing gets ‘ruined’, nothing has to be ‘put back how you found it’ and nothing is ‘wrong’. When there are no limits set on play, children have the chance to take ownership without fear of failure, or, fear of creating too much mess to clean up. Your set up doesn’t have to be perfect (it won’t stay as it is for long anyway), it just needs to be inspiring, interesting, exciting and provoke a sense of wonder - inviting children to come and have a look, a touch and eventually a full on play!



Dinosaur Island Play Tray| Past & Present with fossils | Tuff Spot Ideas



Dinosaur Island play tray fossil tuff spot activity

Shop the resources for this Dinosaur Island Play Tray:

(NB: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

  1. Dinosaur skeletons
  2. Toy Dinosaurs
All other loose parts and resources can be found in my Amazon store here:


If you would like to find out more about the Ikea Flisat desk, have a read of my blog post: Ikea flisat pegboard desk hack here. 


Large Dinosaur Island Tuff Tray: 


Dinosaur Island play tray fossil tuff spot activity

Originally, we set up a large dinosaur Island on our tuff tray using Brio train tracks, lots of loose parts and dinosaurs! This is a big scale activity with lots of moveable parts for children to explore and keep them interested. Have a look at the images for ideas of how to set up your own dinosaur play tray activity....

Dinosaur Island play tray fossil tuff spot activity

Dinosaur Island play tray fossil tuff spot activity

Dinosaur Island play tray fossil tuff spot activity


Dinosaur Fossil Hunting activity:

As an extension, we repeated our dinosaur tuff tray on a smaller scale using our Flisat table with the Trofast tray inserts. We used one tray for the dinosaurs of the past, as they would have been - roaming free. In the other tray we had dinosaurs of the present - as fossils and bones within the ground...
Would you like to watch a quick video showing you how to make and set up your own dinosaur fossil hunting and matching activity?


How to create a dinosaur fossil play tray activity:

As you will have seen in the video, I used a hot glue gun and a sheet of sand paper to create my base for the tray. The glue dried to become the bone fossils and they were then covered in sand and wholemeal flour...

Dinosaur play fossils in a  trofast tray

I added in tools such as a brush and a spade to help dig for and find the bones and fossils! My fossil outlines matched the toy bones we already had so this served as a matching activity too...

Dinosaur Island play tray fossil flisat table activity

Dinosaur Island play tray fossil tuff spot activity

The children loved exploring these play trays, and of course, the Flisat table worked really well for having two children to manage and play at the same time.

What Vocab can you use for a Dinosaur topic?

Our key word for this activity was EXTINCT, but there are lots of other words and verbs you can explore:
Vocab for a Dinosaur topic:


  • Extinct
  • Fossils
  • Bones
  • Skeletons
  • Carnivore
  • Herbivore
  • Reptile
  • Triassic/Jurassic/Cretaceous
  • Herd/Pack
  • Prey
  • Predator
  • Claw/Horn/Teeth/Spikes
  • Nest/Egg/Nurtured
  • Palaeontologists
  • Meteor
  • Survive





DINOSAUR TAKE-OVER TUFF TRAY πŸ¦• πŸ¦– . Who wants to play? πŸ‘‹πŸ» . The beauty of loose parts is that children can move and explore all of the objects to create their own scenes, ideas and narratives. Nothing is permanent, so nothing gets ‘ruined’, nothing has to be ‘put back how you found it’ and nothing is ‘wrong’. When there are no limits set on play, children have the chance to take ownership without fear of failure, or, fear of creating too much mess to clean up. Your set up doesn’t have to be perfect (it won’t stay as it is for long anyway), it just needs to be inspiring, interesting, exciting and provoke a sense of wonder - inviting children to come and have a look, a touch and eventually a full on play! . (Ps: Lots of the items on here are listed in my amazon affiliate page if you are looking to create similar: https://www.amazon.co.uk/shop/arthurwears) . . . . #earlyyearsideas #learningbydoing #playideas #importanceofplay #toddleractivity #sensoryplay #invitationtoplay #playbasedlearning #learningthroughplay #openendedplay #handsonlearning #toddleractivities #playmatters #playislearning #tufftrayactivity #earlyyearsideas #eyfsideas #learningbydoing #playideas #toddlerinvestigations #sensoryplay #invitationtoplay #tuffspotideas #tuffspotactivity #sensoryplayideas #importanceofplay #looseparts #dinosaurplay #dinotufftray
A post shared by Sarah - π”Όπ•π”½π•Š 𝕑𝕝𝕒π•ͺ (@arthurwears) on

Would you like more tuff tray ideas?

Have a look at my posts:

Coffee Bean sensory tuff tray 

Life cycle of a frog with chia seed frogspwan tuff tray

Honey Bee Tuff tray

19 Tuff tray activities fro open ended play


Sarah x 

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