We love our Tuff Spot. So much so, that it comes out almost every day and the children often ask to use it for ordinary activities such as for drawing or jigsaw puzzles too. We’ve discovered that it’s a great little tray for almost anything, and it doesn’t have to be messy all the time. One of my favourite ways to use it is to create ‘Treasure Trays’.
The idea is similar to Treasure Baskets for babies. There are loads of ideas here on The Nuture Store and also here on The Imagination Tree, two of my favourite blogs for all things baby/ toddler/ preschooler related. When I make a Treasure Tray for the baby, I try to keep them simple, and linked to our theme if possible. Mainly though, I make sure the Tuff Spot contains all the things I either know or hope will keep her entertained!
For this Treasure Tray, I decided to give her a range of toys from around the house to provide different sensory experiences and a chance for some imaginative play. This is what I did:
- I lined the bottom of the Tuff Spot with a soft blanket so that she had a comfy seat and a nice texture to touch.
- I added a range of noisy toys- shape sorters that sang tunes, bells to jingle and a home-made ratttle to shake.
- I added some ‘real life’ toys for imaginative play- an old cell phone and an old remote control from a television we no longer own. Two of the baby’s favourite posessions!
- I added a box of tissues- the baby loves to pull them out one by one (she will sit and do this with a pack of wipes if I forget to put them out of her reach!). This is a box we reserve for her to play with and which have been pulled out and stuffed back again countless times.
- I also popped in some interactive books- the baby loves looking at books and as a family, we love the ‘That’s not my…’ range.
The best thing about Tuff Spot Treasure Trays is that you can pretty much leave them to explore in their own time. It’s nice to have a range of sensory toys for them to discover, and I like to encourage the baby to play independently as much as I can. I am determined not to be a ‘helicopter mum’! I do have some tips though:
- Don’t bring all the toys out at once. I did use a range for this tray, but I introduced them gradually so that the baby wasn’t overwhelmed with too many toys flashing and jingling all at once.
- Model. I showed the baby how to shake the rattle and how to jingle the bells. She soon picked it up!
- Talk. The baby loved talking to me on the phone and I loved talking back to her! We talked about the different textures, toys and sounds and we also used the signs that we know.
- Choose objects and toys you know your baby likes, or new objects and toys that you know they will enjoy discovering.
- Don’t forget to include household objects too- brushes, spoons, pots, pans and remote controls are all fantastic toys for babies!
Tuff Spot Treasure Trays are slightly different to treasure baskets, because the baby did not need to reach inside to find her treasures, but the idea is the same- she was presented with a range of treasures that I knew she would enjoy exploring. I made sure there was a mix of:
- textures- plastic toys, metal jingle bells, paper tissues and wooden toys too. You can also use crinkly paper, metal kitchen utensils, wooden kitchen utensils, pine cones, scraps of different fabrics…
- sounds- I used musical instruments, rattles and noisy toys. You could also use buttons in tubs, pegs in tubs, pots and pans to bang…
- sights- bright coloured toys, shiny mirrors, sparkling bells. There are so many different objects around the house that the baby finds fascinating!
Next week, my mission is to make her a Treasure tray linked to our theme (pirates!) so any ideas are most welcome!