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Tough Tray play, what is it all about?

A familiar sentence to those who work in Early Years is ‘tough tray play’, which may sound strange for those not ‘in the know’.

A tough tray can be any low rimmed container that is easily accessible to small children, usually a builder’s cement tray. Being a child-led setting, we really enjoy having the chance to put out an activity that is going to pique the children’s interest with something unusual, this may be new smells (lavender/soil/pinecones), textures (frozen shaving foam/bubble wrap/teasels) or something to build, arts and crafts, painting, water play, sand play, cooking, woodwork, construction, play dough, the list could go on and on!

We ensure that our tough trays are at different heights, this means they accessible to all children and allows the children to play how they feel comfortable; lying down, sitting, kneeling, sitting and standing. These can all be done with the tray by propping it on books or bricks, sitting it on the floor or a low table or even standing it up on its side like an easel.

Tough tray play provides a focused area of play with the contents contained. Setting out inviting activities with cognitive and physical challenges has a significant benefit to early childhood development. Tough tray play gives children the opportunity to explore and discover independently, and fosters their creativity and imagination.

If you need any ideas look at our social media sites or if you try one at home please share it with us on our Facebook page ‘Alfriston Preschool’ or tag us on Instagram ‘alfristonpreschool’. It’s always great to share ideas.

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