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Play Trays for the Winter Holidays

06 July 2023

The Winter Holidays are always the toughest. It’s often spent indoors due to chilly, wet weather.

Finding activities to do indoors can be quite challenging at the best of times, even more so when it’s

been a few days in a row. Instead of popping on another movie, why not bring tactile playtime indoors

with a play tray?


The play tray, in essence, is a tray filled with items that encourage sensory play.


What is sensory play?

Sensory play is play that uses the five senses:

sight, touch, smell, hearing and taste. It also encourages movement, balance

and spatial awareness. Yes! All of that from a few items placed on a tray

together. What makes this even better, is that it has no age limit! Play trays

can be adapted for all age groups.


The benefits of sensory play.

Sensory play is beneficial to all ages in a variety of ways.

Dr. Nassim Assefi highlighted the following in an article for Zocdoc,

earlier this year:

  • Improve cognitive development
  • Teach self-regulation
  • Manage anxiety
  • Encourage an interest in discovery
  • Enhance memory
  • Develop and maintain fine and gross motor skills
  • Teach problem-solving and critical thinking

You can read more on sensory play here:  


Play tray ideas for toddlers

Toddlers are all about feel and taste, so keep your play trays edible!


Rainbow Rice Play Tray

This tray is surprisingly quick and easy to make, and

uses items that are in your home already. Pop in to

Busy Toddler’s page to learn how: 


Muddy Monster Truck

This is a delicious play tray that’s guaranteed to keep

your toddler busy. It’s messy, it’s tasty and the texture is

oh, so satisfying. You could even use chocolate instant

pudding instead of the cornstarch mix suggested by

Mama.Papa.Buba. But, you can decide after seeing how

to make this scrumptious play tray: 



Play Tray Ideas for Children

Children are a little less inclined to put everything in their mouths as they get older, so you can

really go to town with any kind of play tray ideas you can come up with. The older children get

the more they need activities that keep them engaged and exploring. Here are two play trays

that will do just that:


Coloured Cloud Dough

The texture on the cloud dough is the main feature of

this play tray. It’s easily molded and the baby oil gives

it a silky feel and lovely fragrance. With three simple

ingredients and all the molds and containers you can find,

this is bound to be a holiday hit. Head over to Happy

Hooligans for this fluffy play tray: 


Star Dust Writing Tray

We know that most of our children are relieved that

they are free from homework for three weeks, but that

doesn’t mean that they can’t learn while having fun.

The star dust writing tray is a fun way to practice writing

and even draw a picture or two. The Imagination Tree

will guide you on how to make the most magical writing

aid you’ve ever seen:   


Play Tray Ideas for Teens

They may not like to admit it, but teens can benefit from play time too!

It can redirect a bad mood, or just be something relaxing to do. Here are

our top picks for play trays for your teens.


Calming Lavender Play Tray

The title says it all! The end of exams means that

many teens are trying to recover from exam stress.

Try out this calming play tray that will leave the room

smelling lovely too. Get your teens to try out this play

tray and put it together from start to finish: 


DIY Zen Garden

Yup! Those little desk top features weren’t just a cool

decoration, it’s actually the ideal play tray to assist relaxing.

You’ll need fine sand, which can be found at craft shops,

and any items you desire: stones, mini cacti, wire trees,

the list is endless. But, to start you on your Zen journey, have

a look at what Confessions of an Overworked Mom has to say: 


Using a tray, like House of York’s tea caddy tray can offer more variety with more areas to fill with

different items. There are no rules, let your creativity and imagination run wild! If you’d like some more

ideas, browse through Pinterest’s vast library of pins:   


Living Creativity

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