Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Messy tray ideas 2016

So a tuff spot/black tray/builders tray/messy tray is one of the most versatile parts of the Early Years classroom. They come in every shape and size but the most common is the hexagonal black variety.

You'll have seen a million different activities online for black trays.  One of the biggest problems is that too often Nurseries and other settings pre-reception put 'focus' activities in a black tray. A closed activity with an end result.  Why?!  The beauty of a black tray activity is the open-endedness of it. Children can do what they want and explore the materials using all senses and think creativity and critically.  (However they have a place in reception where the learning becomes more focussed).

Below are activities which we tried in our tray over a few weeks.  All of which are open ended and appropriate for Early Years settings.

1) Custard basil seed Gak:

This is very similar to gloop. Cornflour and custard power are much the same except custard has a lovely smell and colour.  We often add basil seeds to our cornflour gloop to make Gak (click here). 

We added more cornflour for them to mix in.  Simply activity which can be used with hands or with small tools.

2)  Painting butter beans

Today we tried a tricky fine motor activity.  We used small paint brushes and paint to cover the butter beans.

We have been looking at the blossom on our fruit tree outside so we used some red and white paint to make pink just like the blossom. 

3) Bubble dough (For the recipe click here

This is an old favourite. I didn't add the cooking oil this time but I had to admit I wish I had.  Its a very simple recipe and our batch lasted for the entire day.  

The video below shows the consistency.  Try adding glitter, food colouring and other textures to make it more magical!


4) Cornmeal.

Cornmeal is very smooth. Its heavier than powder paint or talc powder but its just as smooth and soft. Its really lovely and of course, edible! (We have some children who eat whatever they can).  You can mix your corn meal with oil or water to make a dough but we kept this dry as the children were having such a wonderful time with it.  

5) Blossom.

We have been looking at the blossom on the trees now for a long time. The children have been slightly obsessed which has moved onto birds as there is a birds nest quite low in our tree. On Thursday last week we had cornflour, powder paint and blossom in black tray. This really helped the children to understand colour mixing - another skill we're working hard on.

We have also been collecting responses to the blossom as a provocation for our project board. Its looking particularly effective at the moment.