Tuff Trays: Sensory Benefits & 20 Creative Ideas for Play

It is important for your child to participate in sensory activities as it offers an enjoyable and stimulating experience. There are plenty of simple and engaging activities that can keep your child entertained for hours.

These open-play experiences foster creativity, independence, and curiosity. There are even products made for this type of exploration.

What is a Tuff Tray? A Tuff Tray is a type of tray that makes sensory play easy and fun. These trays are large and shallow, and you can fill them with a variety of items for your child to explore. They are durable and big enough for more than one kid to use at a time. 

Our Tuff Tray kept sensory items mostly off the floor and gave our kids endless hours of fun. You can use a Tuff Tray for a variety of purposes.

What Is Sensory Play?

Sensory play is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It involves a child using at least one of their five senses when engaging in play. In many circumstances, children will use more than one sense while playing and will make connections.

Why Is Sensory Play Important?

Sensory play is important because it allows kids to be creative while solving problems and feeding their curiosity. Language and motor skills are positively impacted by sensory play, and it can even improve a child’s balance.

Sensory Play Examples

Sensory play includes activities that stimulate your child’s senses. Using scented dough to create things, using colored rice to explore colors and feel textures, and even playing with food all count as sensory activities. The possibilities are endless.

What Is the Point of a Tuff Tray?

Tuff  Trays are great at containing messes while allowing your child to explore a variety of sensory-engaging activities.

You can fill up tuff trays with almost anything, and the heightened edges keep the items from spilling all over the place. 

The trays also grow with your kids and are sturdy enough to last for years. They are easy to transport and can be moved around your house easily.

What Size Is a Standard Tuff Tray?

Most Tuff Trays are around a meter in length and width. They can vary in size, but they are  big enough for your kid to enjoy without limiting how much they can throw in them. 

What Can a Tuff Tray Be Used For?

What can’t a Tuff Tray be used for? Our Tuff Tray was all of the following through the years: kinetic sand holder, water table, tiny gardening area, caterpillar garden, and more.

If your kid can touch it, you can use a Tuff Tray for it. Put in anything you want to contain to one area and let your kids explore. Toddlers will also enjoy sitting in the Tuff Tray with whatever you put in since that offers a full sensory experience.

What Age Is a Tuff Tray For?

Tuff Trays are recommended for kids ages 1-9, though what you put in them will depend on your child’s age and what is considered safe. Tuff Trays are big enough for your child to use for years.

Are Tuff Trays for Indoor or Outdoor Use?

You can use a Tuff Tray inside or outside, and that’s part of what makes them great. They are versatile.

If you use them inside, make sure to put your Tuff Tray somewhere that you don’t mind a bit of a mess.

While these trays tend to keep the mess contained, my youngest kids were experts at getting kinetic sand out of them and onto the floor.

Tuff Tray Covers

If you get a Tuff Tray, a cover is a must. Tuff Tray covers allow you to keep your child’s play creations intact even when they aren’t using the Tuff Tray.

You can simply use the cover to protect the contents and take it off when your child is ready to play again.

Tuff Tray covers can also keep items from getting weathered if your tray sits outside. Many covers are water resistant and will protect what is within from heat, rain, and other wear.

Tuff Tray Inserts

Educational inserts for Tuff Trays are another way to make this already versatile item even better.

Whether your child is learning their colors, working on numbers, or loves playing with toy cars, there’s an insert to customize the tray just for them. 

These inserts can be easily removed and replaced with others, and this makes your child feel like they are getting a whole new experience each day when they play.

What Can You Fill a Tuff Tray With?

The short answer is just about anything. Kinetic sand, water, playdough, toy cars, and paint are just a few of the choices you have when deciding what to put in your child’s Tuff Tray. Your creativity is your only limit.

Tuff Tray Safety Guidelines

Make sure that you only put age-appropriate items in your child’s Tuff Tray. Don’t add items your child is too young to use, such as toys that can be easily placed in the mouth and swallowed, inside the Tuff Tray.

If you do get a stand with your Tuff Tray, ensure it is secure and won’t allow the tray to fall easily. Always supervise a child using their Tuff Tray for water play. Even a small amount of water can be a drowning risk for a young child.

Tuff Tray Ideas

A Tuff Tray is amazing because your child can start using it at a very young age and continue using it for years to come. What you fill the tray with may change, but its usefulness will not.

Tuff Tray Ideas for 1-Year-Olds

  • Reflective tray using foil
  • Edible sand
  • Food for exploration
  • Sensory play using items with different textures
  • Building blocks

Tuff Tray Ideas for Toddlers

  • Kinetic sand pit
  • Paint tray with trucks
  • Corn flour dough pit
  • Bubble bath for dolls
  • Worm tray with real or gummy worms

Tuff Tray Ideas for Older Kids

  • Nature texture collection
  • Math game tray
  • Art tray
  • Science experiment tray

Indoor Tuff Tray Ideas

  • Puzzle tray
  • Volcano tray
  • Vocabulary tray
  • Indoor garden tray
  • Outer space tray
  • Literary tray using favorite books

Do Tuff Trays Need a Stand?

You don’t have to have a stand with a Tuff Tray, but you can use one if it makes the table easier for your child to navigate. Stands can also be great as your child grows. 

Tuff Trays With Stand

Tuff Trays with stands can be purchased, but they may not be the exact same size or dimensions as standard Tuff Trays. The stands allow your child to stand and play as opposed to just sit, and they can also be used with chairs.

Are Tuff Trays Worth It?

Due to their size, durability, and versatility, many parents feel like Tuff Trays are absolutely worth it. They are made with kids in mind, so they are convenient for all types of sensory play.

Since they can be moved from the inside to the outside, you don’t have to have a designated space in your home to store a Tuff Tray.

Closing Thoughts

Investing in a Tuff Tray is something you won’t regret. Your child will have multitudes of sensory play opportunities when you provide them with the perfect place for this type of play.