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Seaside Small World Tuff Tray


Today we welcome Clare to Learning and Exploring Through Play. She stops by to share with us the fabulous seaside small world she recently created for her Toddler.

Hello I am Clare and I live in Norfolk. I am a busy working Mother of 5 lovely children. My eldest four are all teenagers now so I know how very quickly they grow up! Our youngest is 2 and a half at the moment, so I am busy making the most of his Toddler years. I know how soon they'll be gone and then who will I play with?

We love messy play and I always have one project or another going on for Roman. From Papier Mache pumpkin costumes to huge elephant sculptures taking over the living room, (my poor husband).

I’ve only very recently discovered the world of Tuff Trays, and I’m now hooked! I have gone completely tuff tray crazy and me and my little boy love it! 

I can no longer unpack my shopping without collecting interesting pieces of packaging that I know will make an awesome mountain or a cute little fishing net!

My most favourite are small worlds. As well as being my favourite to create, I love how Roman always takes his time to explore all the little details. 

He will very carefully peek into tunnels to see what’s hidden, find his favourite character floating in the sea or discover some hidden gold under the sand and always with a huge smile on his face. 

Then he’ll start to investigate all the different textures. He’ll slowly push his hands though the coloured sand, pick up and sprinkle some rice and squish some fluffy shaving foam. For a while he’ll play so carefully but it's not long before our small world looks like it has been the subject of a tornado! But Roman loves it!



My favourite so far has been our 'A Day at The Seaside' tray. After a lovely day at Cromer beach - walking along the pier, catching crabs and making sandcastles, I thought I would have a go at recreating it. 

I picked up a lovely beach hut money box and a tiny wooden boat. From then the ideas just snowballed! 

Next we needed a pier. I have a stash of crafty bits and pieces and found a pack of lolly sticks that would do nicely. 

Old Jenga blocks made perfect wooden pillars. 
Everyone loves a bright blue sea, so as our tray is black we needed a white liner. A one meter piece of PVC from the Range for £2.99 was perfect and I’m sure will come in handy for many future tuff trays! 

We then added a dab of blue food colouring to the water. I just used regular play sand from my son’s sand pit, and we added shells and pebbles collected from the beach. 


Over the years we’ve collected lots of animal figures so already had all the fish and sea creatures we needed. We also now have a growing collection of Cbeebies figures – perfect visitors to our Seaside resort. 

I made a small fishing rod with a piece of netting, the plastic rim from a bottle and the end of a cocktail stirrer. I cut some tiny beach towels from an old flannel and added cocktail umbrellas as sunshades. 

My older son had the clever idea of making a floating rubber ring from a pool noodle and putting one of his figures inside - Voila! 

Roman loved playing with his very own seaside resort! His little figures all had turns jumping off the pier, the sharks and whales swam and sun bathed! Roman listened to every single shell to hear the sound of the sea. Lovely. 

We will, I’m sure be doing another seaside themed tray but there are so many other ways to create it and other materials to use, maybe we’ll have pirates and water beads, or moon dough sand and a sea made of jelly!

Thank you so much for sharing your activity with us Clare! We love the set up you have created - wish we lived closer to have joined in the fun! Clare has her own Facebook Page sharing all her super creative hands on learning tuff trays and sensory play ideas. Be sure to stop by and give her page a like to see lots more fun ideas: Tuff Trays and Sensory Play

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