A Tuff Tray, also known as a Tuff Spot, may not look like much at first glance, but the more we got playing with it, the more it became apparent just how brilliant it is for the kids - largely because of its almost endless number of activities!
In this extended guide we look at the Tuff Tray in more detail, when the right time is to start thinking of one, its key benefits, and a selection of the very best Tuff Tray ideas for you to get going.
1. What is a Tuff Tray?
It is a large heavy duty plastic tray. The tray itself is octagonal shaped with raised sides that are perfect for containing different materials for all kinds of messy play. It is approximately 1 meter in diameter. They can usually be found outside but are also fantastic for in-home use.
It is made up of 3 parts:
Fortunately, in most places you don't have to worry about getting 3 separate packages and can get them all in one.
2. When is my child ready for a Tuff Tray?
You know when a child is ready for a Tuff Tray when they start to engage in a wide range of Messy Play activities with different materials, and doing this without constant supervision. Typically, this means:
Toddler age, minimum. Typically when your child is at least 2 years + where both their gross and fine motor development is at a stage where they can see, touch, play to have control over the Tuff Tray activities.
Basic 2-way communication. So they can listen, learn and adapt to the variety of things going on in their Tuff Trays at any given time.
The imaginations are starting to rocket. Around that early toddler age through to primary school you'll really start to notice their imaginations soar, and that is a perfect time to introduce a Tuff Tray to help them develop further.
The Key Benefits of a Tuff Tray
3. Tuff Tray Ideas
We weren't joking when we said there are near endless activities with a Tuff Tray. Here are 12 of our favourite ideas from parents across the community. Want more? Here's a piece on even more Tuff Tray ideas.
1. The Farmyard
2. Making A Potato Head
3. Hook A Duck!
4. The Sorting Game
5. PlayDoh Monsters
6. The Magic Tree
7. Underground Cave
8. Gravity Challenge
9. The Biggest Fairytale
10. Mini Beast World
11. Growing Station
12. Billy Goats Crossing
4. Key Watchouts
- Make sure the stand is height adjustable: to be honest I thought the ability to adjust the height on the stand was so that the Tuff Tray could get taller as the child grew. Oh how wrong I was! As you'll see from the activities above, different Tuff Tray activities require the Tuff Spot to be at different heights.
- Don't leave it outside: Tuff Trays are great for outdoor play, but we wouldn't recommended that you leave the stand outside over night or in the rain. Store it in the shed or indoors.
- Make sure the plastic doesn't warp: The last thing you want to do is use the Tuff Spot 2-3 times before the plastic starts to fade. Make sure to get a strong and durable Tuff Spot.
- Kitchen roll / Wipes: Finally, always have some super strong kitchen roll just in case.
5. Best Places To Buy One
Ebay also has a good selection of Tuff Trays, and if you're willing to shop/bid for the items separately, you can get an even better price overall.
If you're looking for a good value all in one package, then this one from Shopping Sky World is particularly good and comes with all 3 parts at the best price and quality we've found so far.
There are also a range of stockists across the country for you if you want to make the trip. Whatever you do, have fun. The Tuff Tray is so much more fun, practical and inventive than I ever thought possible, and I hope this little guide helps you have Tuff adventures all of your own too.