For those of you who are unfamiliar with tuff tray, it’s a large shallow plastic tray that can contain much of the mess created by kids during playtime. It comes with adjustable stand and can be in a variety of colors. Let’s take a look into top 10 tuff tray filler ideas to get you started.
Tuff Tray Play for Independent Playtime
When my sons are in school their little sister is left behind to spend the morning at home with only myself to amuse her most mornings. We do spend a lot of time playing together and doing arts and crafts activities, but there does come a time when I need to get a few chores done around the house.
To encourage my daughter to play independently, whilst I do some jobs around her, I have started to select a small number of toys or activities for her to do sat inside a tuff tray.
We are very lucky to have a separate playroom at home to keep all of our toys in the one space, but when Bella is home alone she can find it a bit daunting to choose what to play with. She will just flit from one thing to the next and get bored very quickly. Selecting just a few items at time for her to focus on is really helping her to play independently for longer.
This is allowing me to get more chores down in the morning, leaving the afternoons free for us all to have fun together when the boys arrive home from school.
Tuff Tray Fillers to encourage independent play
For most of these activities you will not need a tuff spot stand. You can simply lay a tuff tray on the floor and let your toddler sit inside during play. Also, in case you can’t get a hold of a tuff spot or garden tray, you can simply use any plastic container large enough for child to sit inside and play. Or even inflate a kiddy pool!
- Moon sand. Mix up some moon sand using the basic recipe of 8 cups of flour to 1 cup of baby oil and place this into the centre of the tuff tray. Then add in a couple of cars or diggers. You little one can enjoy driving through the sand, whilst you drive the hoover around.
- Water play. Place a large container filled with warm bubbly water into the centre of the tuff tray and throw in a funnel, a jug and a cup. You can then get on with washing the dishes whilst your toddler messes around in their own bowl of water.
- Pretend play picnic. Select a couple of your son or daughter’s favourite soft toys and lay a blanket inside the tuff tray. Then settle them down for a “Pretend Picnic,” whilst you prepare the lunch.
- Pretend play doctor office. You can then use the same soft toy after lunch whilst you sweep the floors, but this time add in a long piece of fabric and a spoon to encourage a game of “Pretend Doctors.”
- Dinosaur land. Cover your tuff tray with a dark coloured sheet or blanket and chuck in some cushions and a couple of dinosaurs. Then leave your toddler to play in “Dinosaur Land,” whilst you sort the laundry.
- Crunchy farm. Empty a box of cereal into your tuff tray and add in a few small farm animals. Let your child stomp and crunch around with them on “The Farm” whilst you make your shopping list.
- Racing cars. Keep it very simple and just give your toddler a toy car to race around the tuff tray, whilst you race around with the duster.
- Threading. Set your toddler off with a threading activity and then catch up on some paperwork.
- Pretend play with play dough. Add in a small tub of play dough and a rolling pin and cutter and let them “Bake” cookies for you, whilst you do some cooking of your own.
- Building house. Tip some building bricks into the tray. Ask them to build you a “house” whilst you try and sneak in a cup of tea!
What other ideas for tuff tray fillers for toddlers can you suggest?
In Less Toys. More Play. article series we share ideas how to reduce toy consumerism, unclutter child’s rooms and bring more engaged play to our children.
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