15 Creative Tuff Tray Dinosaur Ideas

If your little ones are obsessed with dinosaurs and everything prehistoric, tuff trays are the perfect platform for imaginative activities.

From crafting your very own Jurassic Park to excavating fossils like a seasoned palaeontologist, we’ve compiled a collection of activities that promise not only fun but also educational value.

Take inspiration from these 15 ideas – bookmark them for later if you’re ever stuck for ideas on entertaining the little ones.

15 Tuff Tray Dinosaur Ideas

1.Making A Home For The Dinosaurs

This is a great activity for preschoolers, challenge them to make a home fit for their dinosaurs.

Grab a tuff tray and write the message onto it as shown below, add their dinosaur figurines and a bunch of natural materials that they can use to create a home – this could include moss balls, pebbles, twigs, shells and anything else you can get your hands on.

Instagram image credit: @topteach82

2. Sensory Triceratops

This tuff tray idea is great for slightly older kids, but you might need to give a bit of direction with this one. Get them to build a sensory triceratoprs.

Get everything ready to go in separate bowls, lentils and pebbles for the face and you could even use a mirror base so it stands out. Add a further educational element to it by adding a fact sheet on this prehistoric dinosaur.

Instagram image credit: @preschool_teacher_ireland

3. Sensory Volcano

Build a dino land, complete with its own sensory volcano. Little ones will have so much fun exploring the land with their dinosaurs.

You can pretty much make the entire tuff tray edible so you don’t have to worry about little hands picking the pieces up to their mouths! Instead of using pasta for the lava, you could even use grated pieces of carrots which will give another sensory feel to it.

Instagram image credit: @homeschooling_aid

4. Coco Pops Habitat!

We’re huge fans of creating tuff trays with sensory, and edible elements! Instead of soil, add a coco pops base, it looks effective and adds a great sensory element to those little hands.

Use bamboo offcuts and pine cones for added sensory elements and don’t forget to add those dinosaur figurines in too.

Instagram image credit: @playtime_witholiver

5. Identifying Dinosaurs

If you’ve got older children get them to sort dinosaurs into groups, whether they are carnivore, omnivore or herbivore. It encourages children to have to look closely at structure and investigate.

Give them books and information sheets so they can be well informed to make their choices, this is a great learning and problem solving activity.

Instagram image credit: @ks1_team

6. Different Sensory Lands

It’s all about the sensory activities that make them so fun for the little ones. Setup a prehistoric land with different sensory sections based on different areas.

We love the woodland inspired, sea and earth sections – you could use anything from jelly, to colored yoghurt to pasta sections.

Instagram image credit: @sensoryplayco

7. Build The Dinos Habitat

Toddlers will love nothing more than coming downstairs in the morning to a dino habitat that has already been made for them to explore and play with.

Segment different areas on the tuff tray relating to different types of land. We love the crushed up cereal and colored spaghetti for some pretty cool sensory ideas.

Instagram image credit: @thenanny.gram

8. Dinosaur Poop Tuff Tray

We love this idea, albeit it a bit gross, the kids will love it! Get them to investigate chocolate playdough, to find out if it’s come from a herbivore, omnivore, piscivore or carnivore.

Add fact sheets for each one and what you need to look for. Another one for the older kids, encouraging problem solving and learning too.

Instagram image credit: @the_rural_headteacher

9. Ice egg Exploration

Get little ones excavating, they will love this activity!

Freeze some small dinosaur figurines in egg shaped moulds. Then add them to the centre of a tuff tray surrounded by hay and dinosaurs. Give them mini child friendly brushes and hammers to get them to unearth the eggs.

Instagram image credit: @eyfsbadgerclass

10. Dinosaur Tea Party

This sensory tea party activity is a lot of fun! You can choose to use plastic or real china ware for this one, depending on the setup or age of the child.

Use green colored water and add leaves and grass that can be used to fill the cups.

Instagram image credit: @our_curious_journey

11. Dino Messy Play

Include lots of food items for messy play when creating your own dino land. Add plastic dinosaur toys and items from around the house to create a unique setup.

Jelly, cereal, pasta, spaghetti and lentils all make great items for sensory play.

Instagram image credit: @uniquely_oliver

12. Dino Bath

Most little ones adore water play, and if the weather is nice it’s a perfect idea for an outdoor tuff tray idea.

This is a win win game, as it helps us parents out too! Introducing dino bath! Fill up the tuff tray with soapy water, add some paint brushes, bottles and get them to wash their toys.

*Little ones should always be supervised by an adult around water based activities.

Instagram image credit: @inspiringplayearlyyears

13. Sand Volcano Play

Whether you create it yourself or get your little one to help out, creating a sand volcano makes for one of the best sensory exploration ideas.

Use wet sand to build a volcano by hand. Add red food coloring to mimic lava, or you could even use grated carrots or pasta at the bottom of the volcano to show this.

Instagram image credit: @messyfundublin

14. Dino Water World

Another water play activity which is great for spring and summer play fun. Fill your tuff tray with water, add pebbles, bamboo off cuts, dinosaur figurines and anything else you can find at home.

Instagram image credit: @jodiewilliamschildminding

15. Jurassic Park

Finally, we had to include this classic jurassic park idea which is just so much fun. Add different sections for additional sensory experiences from sand, water to leaves and a volcano. If you have the structural pieces, include them, if not you can easily have a go at building your own volcano and separate lands.

Instagram image credit: @Amy_motheingarainbow

We hope your prehistoric mad little ones love these ideas. If you have any other activities centred around dinosaurs, we’d love to hear them in the comments below!

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Susan Sage
Susan Sage is a dedicated mother of two, whose journey through parenthood has fueled her passion for sharing knowledge and expertise with other parents. Her articles are a treasure trove of insights, offering practical advice, emotional support, and innovative ideas to help parents navigate the complexities of raising children in today's world.

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