Home educating: 13 tuff trays

by - 07:00:00

Educating an under 5 is a world of fun, mess and unlimited letter 'S'. (S is the first letter we learnt) When I'm not cooking or cleaning, I'm setting up activities or planning for the next one. Sometimes I'm left searching for new activities and after a day of trawling Pinterest, I'm left thinking 'what can I plan next?' So I thought I'd share with you some of our favourite tuff tray activities this past year. (Don't forget to head down to the bottom of this post for our 'day in life' video.)

tuff tray home education 

Winter small world

tuff tray home education 

The girls loved this winter small world play, we had fake snow and cotton wool balls for snowballs, Santa, snowmen reindeer and a 'winter cottage' this was by far one of their most favourite trays this year.
Keywords: snow, cold, Christmas, winter, build, shiny

Ice painting

tuff tray home education 

Sticking with our Christmas theme for this one, we used a tree shaped mould to make a giant frozen Christmas tree, small ice cubes were 'baubles' and we used regular paint to change their colours and experiment as the ice melted.
Keywords: ice, paint, colours, slippery, wet

Foam decorating 

tuff tray home education
For this tuff tray I created a Christmas tree from shaving foam which the girls decorated with water beads, the shape didn't matter, it could have quite easily have been a giant circle to turn into a smiley face.
Keywords: smooth, slippery, slimy, orange, white

The beach

tuff tray home education
Who doesn't love a trip to the beach? (Well except me!) the girls loved this tray full of sand, shells, shapes and water. We could dig, burry some treasure and make sand castles.
Keywords: sand, rough, shells, beach, sea, seaweed, dig, build

Un-messy messy play!

tuff tray home education 
This tray was one of the first we made a long time ago, we wanted something really sensory for Naminé without the mess. Grab a tray, add paper (if you want a picture to keep at the end), squirt blobs of paint, cover in cling film and let them loose.
Keywords: paint, cold, create, picture, squelch


tuff tray home education 
This has to be my favourite! We collected saw dust, straw, rice cereal , bedding and some happy land toys, added a blue plate with water for a pond and created a farm, this activity last a few days and I'm not sure who had more fun, me or the girls.
Keywords: farm, crunch, crisp, soft, animal noises, animal names, warm

Magic sand

tuff tray home education 
This stuff is great! Is holds together and you can still move it around, best of all it cleans up easy. This sand cost me around £2 and included all the shapes, we had so much fun building and creating.
Keywords: build, create, soft, hold, green, mould

Water play

tuff tray home education 
Pippets and syringes to practice fine motor skills, just a bit of fun to cool off in the summer. (Try aiming across the garden at something as a target too!)
Keywords: push, pull, wet, cold, hot, splash

Experimenting with foam

tuff tray home education 
We decided to experiment with foam and body wash. At first we mixed the together to see how much mess we could make but eventually we wrote our name in it and then turned it into a skating rink. Beware: this is not one for those who dislike mess!
Keywords: foam, gel, skate, slippery, mess, letter names

Colour experimentation

We tried this after Christmas when we had a few glass glitter baubles left that we could use. We took the hooks out of them and set them out into the tray with tubs of different coloured water, glitter, syringes and pippets. The girls really enjoyed mixing colours and making their own potions.
Keywords: colour names, mixing, tool names, glitter, push, pull, pour, wet, water

Autumn talk

tuff tray home education 
During autumn we spent a week collecting conkers (over 300 of them) after spending a while talking, writing and drawing about the horse chestnut tree, we decided we wanted a feel bin. We collected all the bits and left the out to experiment with and play.
Keywords: conkers, horse chestnut tree, rough, spiky, trees, shell, leaves, fall, dead, sticks, bugs

Sugar cube igloos

tuff tray home education 
Paw patrol to the rescue! With a bunch of sugar cubes and paw patrol figures we made igloos and helped rescue people out of the avalanches. We wrote words with sugar cubes and in the sugar snow too.
Keywords: snow, sugar, rough, build, ice, cube, cold, rescue, avalanche, fall

Easter nest mess

tuff tray home education
Chicks, eggs and grass dumped out on the tray ready for their imagination. We talked about how chicks grow, how they make their nests, watched a short video of how and then had a go at making our own to protect their eggs.
Keywords: eggs, chicks, nests, grass,  
Please let us know if you try any of these and also other ideas that you have and don't forget to follow us on Instagram: Mummies Waiting for plenty more ideas.

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