19 of The Best Harvest Tuff Tray Ideas For Toddlers

These sensory play tuff tray ideas are inspired by the upcoming harvest season and they are just so much fun for little ones to explore, engage with and boost some of their core skills from fine motor skills to language development.

From planting and digging to exploring the nature floor, take your pick from these 19 ideas that we’ve compiled and are perfect for toddlers and beyond. Bookmark your favorite ideas for later on in the season.

19 of The Best Harvest Tuff Tray Ideas For Toddlers

1.The Little Red Hen

Grab The Little Red Hen children’s book and let this inspire your child’s tuff tray activity. Add farm animals, tractors and edible flooring – think oats for chicken seed and crumbled biscuits for mud.

Let the book lead the play for an open ended play session.

Instagram image credit: @craftytoddlercompany

2. Carrot Patch

We’ve featured this idea in our summer tuff tray ideas list before, but it’s too good not to share for harvesting season.

For your tuff tray, add a deeper bowl or dish and fill with soil (you could even whip up some edible soil too), add some chantenay carrots, pot and a little gardening set for kids. Get them to plant, dig up and pot the carrots. You could tie this into a counting game too to see how many they can find.

Instagram image credit: @ourplaydaze

3. Harvest Exploration

We adore this fun autumnal, harvest exploration in a tuff tray.

There’s no set rules for this one, but fill your tuff tray with plenty of natural elements, harvest items and of course, cups and spades for plenty of scooping and pouring.

Use dried oats for a great base, it’s sensory and toddler friendly too! Add items like leaves, pine cones, conkers, sweetcorn, carrots and mini pumpkins.

Instagram image credit: @naptimewonders

4. Open Ended Harvesting Play

There’s nothing better for toddlers than open ended play sessions that allow them to develop their imagination and role play skills.

Setup a classic harvest tuff tray with soil, pots and spades and a selection of vegetables such as carrots, potatoes, broccoli and sweet potatoes.

Instagram image credit: @tuff_tray_inspiration_eyfs

5. Learning About The Origins of Vegetables

Add an educational element to your harvest setup but teaching your little ones the origins of vegetables as they dig them up.

Include a selection of different tools to rake, dig and get them to water the vegetables whilst learning where they come from. This has all of the fun sensory elements involved too to really engage toddlers and EYFS.

Instagram image credit: @earlyyearsatlittleacorns

6. Digging & Planting

Get them involved with the process of digging and planting with this fab harvest tuff tray idea.

Use a bark base, but you could use soil or an edible soil mix too. Add a selection of vegetables including carrots and Brussel sprouts that they can plant and dig up to their hearts content. Include some children’s gardening tools into the mix so they can rake, dig and plant.

Instagram image credit: @miss_s_earlyyears

7. Farmyard Affair

How cute is this little farmyard setup? Add an educational element to it with this Where Do Vegetables Come From story book.

Divide 3 different sections on the tuff tray – one for soil which can be coco pops, a corn growing field with cheerios underneath, a grass patch for the house, complete with tractor to help transport the freshly picked vegetables around the farm.

Instagram image credit: @earlyyearsatstbernardsprep

8. Harvest Play

If weather allows, this is a great setup ideas for outside. Start by filling up the tuff try with soil and planting some mini veg, add Brussel sprouts and chantenay carrots, or cut the tops off ordinary carrots to plant.

This harvest role play can be an open ended play session, include figures, houses and animals and let your little ones takeover.

Instagram image credit: @childquoteoftheday

9. Farming

Another farming tuff tray setup which is perfect for harvest season. Fence the areas off and add a vegetable patch, a place for tractors and a place for the animals to sleep.

This is another open ended role play session which doesn’t have to have a specific educational theme, but it could be used for vocabulary recognition and a learning about where vegetables come from too.

Instagram image credit: @missbanks_123

10. Gruffalo Soup

If you have a gruffalo fan on your hands, this is a super fun activity that can lean into harvest season too. Lay out the tuff tray with lots of natural elements including leaves, pine cones and wood bark.

Add a bowl to the middle for gruffalo soup, fill with your choice of liquids, add some googly eyes and a whisk for your little one to get involved. We’d recommend adding some plastic cups and a jug for extra sensory fun.

Instagram image credit: @tufftray_adventures

11. Harvesting Vegetables

Can you help harvest the vegetables? This role play is designed to get them to harvest vegetables is packed full of learning opportunities, sorting, counting 1-1 correspondence, fine motor skills, exploring and vocabulary relating to shape.

You’ll need pots for collection, spades, soil and a selection of vegetables for picking!

Instagram image credit: @eyfswelcometothebubble

12. Making Harvest Soup

Gather your little ones around and get them to whip up a delicious (non edible!) batch of harvest soup.

Use natural food resources to create harvest soup such as pine cones, dried oranges, conkers and oats. Include wicker baskets, letters, a teapot, milk jugs and potion pots so they can play as much as they want. This is such a fab sensory activity that toddlers will love.

Instagram image credit: @childmindingwithclairec_33

13. Harvest Count

Get them counting for harvest! Plant a selection of carrots and vegetables and get them to count how many they can pull and dig up.

You’ll need compost, carrots, potatoes, pots and gardening tools for this setup.

Instagram image credit: @honeybeesearlyyearsactivities

14. Vegetable Vocabulary

Using their learnt vocabulary, lay out a vegetable patch on your tuff tray for exploration. Include a selection of harvesting books and get them to engage by picking out the vegetables, planting and replanting.

Instagram image credit: @miss.h_teaching

15. Forest Floor Invitation

Invite your little ones to explore the forest floor with this inviting setup. Take things back to basic and get them to explore natural elements, encouraging them to dig and scoop their way around.

Use soil for the base, add wooden tree barks (or pretend parts), coconut shells, pumpkins, leaves and any other natural elements you can get your hands on.

Instagram image credit: @the_new_forest_nest

16. Allotment Gardening

What a therapeutic setup, can we have an adult version?!

This setup is designed to stimulate discussions about harvesting, encourage pretend play and get them to cultivate their very own vegetable patch.

Instagram image credit: @yellow_door_education

17. Sensory Farming

This sensory farming experience is the perfect way to engage your little ones senses, teach them about where food comes from, whilst learning some vocabulary too.

Use sensory rice, and taste safe soil, add farm animals and wooden vegetables. Print off some name tags to do with the harvesting season to finish the tuff tray setup.

Instagram image credit: @craftytoddlercompany

18. Farmyard Exploration

Create a farm setup to teach your little one about everything that goes on behind the scenes. Add shed structures, or have a go at building your own.

Use dried leaves and branches to create a fun sensory base and don’t forget to fill the farm with plenty of animals, and tractors galore.

Instagram image credit: @mrsc.eyfs2023

19. Carrot Farm

How cute is this carrot farm setup for little ones?! Add different areas to your tuff tray setup for different activities. Teach the origins of vegetables and how they’re grown, with a little sensory carrot patch. Mix cheerios, dried pasta and lentils into this section.

We love the addition of the farm shop with pretend weighing scales and shop front, the perfect role playing idea.

Come and tell us which idea you’ll be trying in the comments below, and if you have any other ideas for harvest season, please let us know and share with our community in the comments.

Instagram image credit: @emilee.mitchel
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Bjarni Baby

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