I bought our tuff spot a few years ago and it has been one of the best things I have ever bought. I bought it with a stand and I usually use it for the children in the garden when the weather is fine.
We have had sand, water, shaving foam-basically a whole host of materials that the children can explore to their heart’s content and I don’t have to worry about the mess inside.
You only have to look at Pinterest to see the amazing tuff tray ideas that people create for their children.
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Today we have been playing on the farm. As the weather has turned cold and wet we made our own mini farms using a cutlery tray and a large snack tray / art tray. I filled each section with a different seed or bean or cereal. We had lentils and coffee beans, corn kernels and red beans. We also used blue glass beads in a blue basket to make a duck pond. I added pots and mini tools to allow the farmers to feed their animals and work the land. I made this with Edie in mind but all the children enjoyed exploring it from ages 22 months to 9 years old. We love playing farms and have a large and growing collection of farm animals. Today we used our tiny animals and sorted them into their own pens and fields. We love using these trays for our small world play and these fillers we keep in an air tight container so we are able to use them again and again. If you like the idea of #cutlerytrayplay do follow the hashtag for lots of ideas and inspiration. #somanywaystoplay
I like maximum impact for little effort-doesn’t everyone? So I have come up with some ideas that we use for our tuff tray and asked some friends for help with some photos of their own creations which are a lot better than mine.
As you have probably guessed by now,
most things everything around here is farm themed.
Ice Cubes. When we have a run of hot weather, I will often put a load of little farm animals into ice cube trays, fill them with water and let them freeze. Then I plop them out on the tray with tools for the children to chip away at and watch as the sun and their warm hands starts the magic.
Pincer Grip. Someone told me to do this with with lentils. To be honest I was a bit afraid of the mess and the food waste so I used play sand. I hid some toy carrots in the sand (the type you get for Easter bonnet making) and gave them each a pair of bamboo tongs and they used them like tweezers to search and ‘dig up’ the carrots. This would equally work with any kind of fine material or even soil.
Diggers. Tractors and diggers are always a big hit here and they can be used to shift materials around the tray. Whether it be sand, soil or any other type of equipment you wish to use.
Treasure Hunt. A tray full of hay or straw is great fun and children can rummage around for whatever you feel like hiding. I find plastic farm animals come into their own here but any other small toys would do.
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Nipped out to Homebase to pick up a new safety gate and spotted this piece of grass mat for £4.80…. of course I had to buy it for the kids. They needed it. (Yes they did. They did. Did too!) So far it’s made a great farm land and now is being used as the setting for the Happy Land railway . . . . . #ponderingparenthood #mytinytribe #parentblogs #abovemybabe #raisingthoserascals #candidchildhood #lifeupclose #magicineveryday #developinglife #letthembelittle #fiercelittleones #ordinarymoments #myhappycapture #worldoflittles #cutekidsclub #kidsofinstagram #childrenofig #rememberingthesedays #oureverydaymoments #ig_bbcc #blogbumpclub #littlefamiliesofig #magicofchildhood #mytinymoments #playinthetray #smallworldplay #smallworld #learningthroughplay #eyfs
Book Inspiration. There are so many amazing farm themed books for children from ones for babies to toddlers, Christmas and Easter themed ones, you could plan a whole tray play around a farm themed box like this one based around A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson and brought to life by Pondering Parenthood.
Clean the animals. There are two ways to do this-you can put a small container, filled with soil and the toy animals in the centre of the tray and put water around it or, if your animals are like ours and are dirty anyway from hours of playing in the garden or the mud kitchen, you can just pour warm soapy water into the tray and get the children to wash them. I find soil and water is always popular here.
Grass. Grass can be made out of a lot of things. For quite a while, I used a green towel and bath mat. Greengrocers grass can be bought quite cheaply online or grass matting at DIY stores. All of these make great backdrops foray kind of farm play.
Food glorious food. I don’t totally agree with using good food for playing but I think we all have some stale breakfast cereals and pulses languishing in our cupboards and even I admit they look amazing on the tuff spot. Lentils, split peas, corn flakes, oats, they all look like fab and very realistic in terms of real farming. Also, any left over play food can be saved in jars and used again or used as an art material.
If you have any of your own ideas, I’d love to hear them. I love reading your comments.