I love a tuff tray! Who doesn’t? A space for true discovery, a place to contain the mess and a space for children to create using their wonderful imaginations.
I love to set up a range of activities that promote discussion and that cover varied curriculum areas for the EYFS or KS1. I would also use them in other Year groups if given the chance! Usually, tuff tray activities are opportunities for the children to explore for themselves – I don’t usually have an agreed outcome. Sometimes the children surprise me and create scenarios and masterpieces that I would never have thought of. Sometimes too, they make mess – good old fashioned mess! I love this too.
Other times, I model and carefully go through an activity step by step as this too is beneficial to teach certain skills such as folding, cutting, colour mixing and following instructions. These activities are then copied by the children and they will return to them time and time again.
The important message here is that children need to feel safe to make their own paths and follow their own ideas and concepts. But equally, there needs to be an aspect of teaching and learning in everything that we do in class.
Often my carefully planned tuff trays turn out to be total non-starters! The children bypass them and head straight for the construction area or the sandpit! Some of the most favourite tuff tray activities have been the simplest; a cardboard box and a set of paints or paper and new felt pens! Sometimes less is more.
My class and the parents used to love to come into school each day to see what weird and wonderful things had been set up for the children both inside and outside.
Also known as a tough spot, play tray or even cement mixing tray, they were originally created for the construction industry yet over the years their popularity in education has soared. The Tuff tray provides so many opportunities for play. Because of their size and depth they are great for water play, play dough, painting, messy play, sensory play, arts and crafts, sand play, cooking, woodwork, construction,…. the list goes on and on. The possibilities are endless!
Do look at some of my Tuff tray ideas here …