25 Tuff Tray Ideas To Inspire Your Play

I had been eyeing up a tuff tray for ages, they are regularly used in nurseries mainly because they provide a focused area for play and it contains the mess (as much as children’s mess can be contained!) I finally bought one when Ayla was 18 months old and to be honest I haven’t looked back. It has provided us with hours of fun and is still loved years later! Anyway, you’ve come here looking for some tuff tray ideas so lets get to it. Take a look at some of my favorite set ups below.

Easy Tuff Tray Activities For Your Taste Testing Toddler.

5 Inspirational Ideas.

Other Sensory Bin Fillers That Are Taste Safe.

  • Cooked pasta or spaghetti
  • Jelly
  • Cereal
  • Cooked Peas
  • Custard
  • Fruit Tea
  • Water
  • Fruit and Veg
  • Gloop (sometimes called, goop or obleck)
  • Cloud Dough
  • Yogurt and food colour

Why Go For Taste Safe?

Babies and toddlers explore the world around them through their senses, it’s completely normal for them to give things a taste! When we set up invitations to play we want them to be safe so we can relax and enjoy the activity with our children as well as creating a zone with as little restriction as possible. We don’t want to interrupt their flow to stop them putting something in their mouth if we don’t have to, by adding edible or taste safe items we are allowing our babies to explore using all of their senses while keeping them safe.

What Toys Can You Use?

If you are going for messy play any toy that is easy to clean is perfect for your tuff tray. You could also look at adding some spoons, bowls and cups so your toddler can scoop and tip whatever sensory filler you have added into the tray.

Toy you want to avoid

Anything that can’t be cleaned easily, things with batteries or soft toys. If you are doing a non messy play tray just be careful that anything you add into the tray isn’t slippery when stood on, very often children will climb into the tray to explore.

Simple Tuff Tray Ideas You Can Set Up Today For Your Preschooler.

5 Tuff Tray Ideas For Your Preschooler

Non Edible Tuff Tray Fillers

  • Dyed Rice
  • Dry Chickpeas (or any other dry lentils)
  • Shaving Foam
  • Water Beads
  • Feathers
  • Slime
  • Playdough

What Equipment Can Support My Preschoolers Development

As our children learn and grow their are different set ups we can offer that will support their natural development. We can begin to add in numbers and letters for our children to explore as well as making the most of using; scoops, tweezers, scissors and any other fine motor tools we can find.

Tufftray Activities 2 Year Old Explorers

How To Extend Your Child’s Learning

Creating invitations to play based around our toddlers interests is the best way to get them fully focused, involved and learning. Follow their lead and let them explore the trays at their own pace, if they ask questions answer them to the best of your ability and praise them for testing their ideas (even if they don’t work) and for giving things a go.

Just incase you need more inspo here’s another 5 ideas!

Tuff Spot Ideas Using Water

The Best Way To Empty The Tuff Tray

Now if you haven’t realised already… tuff trays don’t fit through most door ways flat. This makes emptying them when they are full challenging! But here are my top tips so you don’t end up tipping the contents of the tray onto the floor.

. Scoop up what you can into a bowl

. Soak up any excess water with kitchen roll

. If your filler doesn’t soak up…. use the kitchen roll you scoop up and last bits

. Spray your tray down with anti bac and wipe it down, it should hopefully be fairly clean by this point!

Unique Ways To Explore The Tuff Tray Babies Edition

No Mess Involved

So you have the edible tuff tray ideas for babies over 6 months here are some extra extra ideas for babies that don’t involve a big clean up after… other than the balls. That one could get messy!


What do you put in a tuff tray?

You can pretty much put what you like in a tuff tray from a small world set up to a full out messy play set up. Tuff trays allow you to create a specific areas for play which contains mess but also allows children to focus into the area in which they have to play with.

Is a tuff tray worth it?

I mean this one is on you. Looking at the tuff trays above is it something you would do with your little one? If it is then they are 100% worth it!

What age are tuff trays for?

From babies all the way up to school age. Ayla has enjoyed playing with the set ups in the tuff tray through out her whole preschool journey and still loves it now! She still even sits in it given half the chance.

Can you leave a tuff tray outside?

Yes! Obviously it will be subject to all the weather conditions so it may not last as long as in indoor tuff tray and I would probably hide it out of the way of bad weather conditions just to protect it a little more. And of course if you have a darker coloured tuff tray and it is out in the sun just we aware it might get really hot in direct sun. Other than that their no reason why it can’t be left outside.

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