Tuff Tray Ideas – Dino World

Tuff Tray Ideas - Dino World - blog post header

Our tuff tray is one of the best things I’ve ever bought. On a rainy day when no one has much energy, it’s great to fill to the brim with dried rice, lentils and pasta, pop in a few pots and spoons and just let them play. However, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous then they are fantastic to set up for real imaginative play. This morning was such a day. Darcie was playing happily but Henry was bouncing around not really finding anything to hold his attention. We hadn’t done anything for his dinosaurs for a while, so I thought I’d set him up a little scene in his tuff tray


First of all, we have the beach. We piled our shell collection into one corner and then surrounded it with sand from our sandpit. We then used some course gravel borrowed from our driveway to partition off each of the sections. To be honest, I’ve no idea why I do this as it gets destroyed in 2 seconds flat, but I like how it all looks with separate worlds for the 2.4 seconds that it’s relatively neat.

Tuff Tray Ideas - Dino World - the beach

Next, we have the dino’s play section which is made using out dried rice, lentil and pasta mix. Darcie likes to pretend that it’s water next to the beach whereas Henry likes to smash it and make as much mess as possible.

Tuff Tray Ideas - Dino World - the play area

This leads us into some rocky woodland. Make simple of stones from the garden and sticks from our playing green, this makes a fabulous textured section for the dinosaurs to climb over and hide under.

Tuff Tray Ideas - Dino World - the rocky woodland

This rocky woodland then leads into the wider forest. Filled to bursting with leaves, twigs and branch cuttings. In Darcie’s words, this is the “dark, scary forest” apparently. So, there’s no telling what may be lurking within.

There we have it, the sections that make up our dino world.

Tuff Tray Ideas - Dino World - the whole tray


As you can see, we mainly used things that we have hanging around. If you fancied giving it a go yourself though, here’s a list:

  • Cuttings from trees
  • Stones from the garden
  • Sand from the sandpit
  • Our shell collection from our (many!) seaside trips
  • Sticks from the green outside our house
  • Gravel from the driveway
  • A mix of dried rice, lentils and pasta that we keep in a box ready to use with the tuff tray


Using tuff trays in this way is really the easiest thing to do. It does take a little imagination to set it up, but from there little ones can just get lost in it for hours. If you child is like Henry, then they will play with it for 20-minute intervals all day. Coming to play, going away to do something else, but always gravitating back to it.

Tuff Tray Ideas - Dino World - what he thinks

However, if your child is like Darcie, they will literally sit and play with it for HOURS. Lost in a little world of imaginative play. On this occasion it was the hatchimals that came to play in dino world, though they refused to leave the beach.

Tuff Tray Ideas - Dino World - what she thinks

With a little imagination and time to set up, this has kept my two entertained all day on this wet and windy summer day!

Tuff Tray Ideas - Dino World - in use

Do you have a tuff tray? What have you been using yours for recently?

If you enjoyed this little idea, then why not check out the creations for kids section of the site for more.

Tuff Tray Ideas - Dino World. Use your tuff tray to set up a jurassic world, perfect for imaginative play for kids of all ages: todder, pre-school or primary school children.

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  1. this is absolutely adorable!!

  2. Love the pictures!!

  3. this is such an amazing idea, one of the things im going to get when we have a garden is a tuff tray!

  4. This is a genius idea!

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