Tuff Tray – a Cheaper (and Better) Alternative

Tuff Tray – a Cheaper (and Better) Alternative

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As a parent, I follow a few ‘kids play’ accounts on Instagram which help to give me ideas and inspiration about ways to play with the children. Through these accounts, I have become aware of the ‘tuff spot/tuff tray‘… if you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s what they look like:

tuff tray

They have a bit of a cult following, and for good reason. Here’s a description I found of what exactly they are used for:

The tuff tray has so many uses! Will you set up a jungle with real plant cuttings and animals or will you create some super outdoor art using messy materials? They store easily, you can carry them easily, attach canopies easily to the top holes, and they are extremely durable. Why not fill it up with sand and hunt for squidgy sparkle letters, fill it with water and sail a boat you made yourself, or use it as a giant inspection tray for minibeasts? The possibilities are endless! Eight sided to encourage group play.

The problem

As soon as I saw how much fun they could be, I wanted one. We love sensory/messy and imaginative play in our household, but I don’t like dealing with all the tidying up afterwards! I was just about to buy one, when it struck me that although the price of them isn’t too bad (around about the £15 mark), I would have to find somewhere to store it. It’s big and awkward. I would probably have to store it outside – it would get dirty and covered in cobwebs and as such I would probably stop using it. Which got me thinking… how can I get the tuff tray experience without the storage difficulties? With a lower price tag, if possible?

The solution

After a lot of research, looking for a tuff tray alternative, I hit the jackpot… here’s the answer – an inflatable play tray. I bought this one this one from Amazon for only £3.49 (with free delivery) at the time of writing. As it is inflatable, it folds down to a tiny size for easy storage. Plus, as you know from this post, tidying up is the bane of my life so I love how the mess is contained so well.

tuff tray alternative - inflatable play tray

It took less than minute to inflate with my mouth, and so far we have filled it with fake snow (as above), sand and water and it is still going strong (December 2019 update: well over a year after buying it: it’s still going strong!). Please let me know if you end up buying one… perhaps I will also share some ideas about how we play with it, if anyone is interested.

tuff tray alternative - inflatable play tray

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