7 Sensory Play Recipes For Your Tuff Tray

7 Sensory Play Recipes For Your Tuff Tray

7 Sensory Play Recipes For Your Tuff Tray

Our tuff trays are one of our best sellers and it is easy to see why, they allow sensory & messy play to be effortlessly contained within the tray. We thought we would share our top 7 sensory play recipes that you can use in your tuff tray or sensory tray at home.

1. Frozen Ice:

A great way to enjoy messy, sensory play with our tuff trays is mixing water and corn flour. One way to do this is to pop your CollectA animals into a small container to freeze them overnight. 

You then scatter corn flour across the tray, add drops of blue food colouring and add your frozen animals. You can then add a jug or bowl of water and allow your child to immerse themselves in an artic play world!

Tuff tray with frozen penguins and book and 3 children around the tray
Tuff tray with frozen penguins and corn flour on it with food colouring drops
Tuff tray with frozen penguins and corn flour on it with food colouring drops and kids playing and making messy water play

2. Cloud Dirt:

You may have heard of Cloud Dough ( which has a 8:1 ration of flour and vegetable oil) but this adds cocoa to make it Cloud dirt!

This sensory material is great for construction based play and is safe and non-toxic for children especially using vegetable as it is taste safe. Some people prefer to use baby oil as it makes the dirt incredibly soft. 

Cloud Dirt recipe: 

  • A big mixing bowl or container
  • 5 cups of flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cocoa

Cloud Dirt instructions: 

Mix the flour, cocoa and cinnamon and mix together in your bowl. Next add the oil, a little at a time with a spoon and then when you have the consistency you would like, use your hands.

You know when it is ready, when you can clump it together in a ball. 

Variation: you can substitute the 2 cup of cocoa for 1 cup of cocoa and 1 cup of cinnamon for a different sensory experience!  

Cloud dirt sensory play on tuff tray with construction toys
Cloud dirt sensory play on tuff tray with construction toys

3. Oobleck:

This is a messy but super fun sensory play recipe as it is both liquid and solid depending on how much pressure you apply. It is a non-Newtonian fluid. If you squeeze it in your hands you can form a solid ball but when you release the pressure, it will flow out of your hands like a liquid!

It is safe and non toxic to play with and it will last a day. 

Oobleck recipe: 

  • 2 cups of corn flour (or corn starch)
  • 1 cup of water 
  • add 1-2 drops of food colouring to make green or blue Oobleck

Oobleck instructions: 

Mix the corn flour and water together and you can either the drops of food colouring to the water before you mix in the flour or add it at the end. 

Child playing with green oobleck in sensory tray
Brown oobleck with collecta toys in tray

4. Aquafaba:

Did you know that chickpea liquid is called aquafaba?

Well, instead of pouring the liquid from a chickpea can down the drain, you can use it and turn it into an incredible sensory play foam that is taste safe. It is perfect for toddlers who still love to put their hands in their mouth.

It also makes a great egg substitute in baking and for vegans. 

Aquafaba recipe: 

  • Large bowl
  • 1 portion of Aquafaba (the liquid drained from one 400g can of chickpeas)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • Food colouring (optional)

Aquafaba instructions

  1. Drain the chickpea liquid into a large bowl.
  2. Add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar into the bowl.
  3. Mix ingredients together with a hand mixer on high until soft peaks form (about 4 minutes).
  4. Add a few drops of food coloring to colour your aquafaba foam. Mix the colour in with the mixer to incorporate.

If you don’t have cream of tartar, you can substitute vinegar or lemon juice.

This foam should be made right before you wish to use it  as the foam will slowly turn back to liquid. You can wash it down the sink when finished. 

5. Water beads:

These are such a great way to add sensory play to your tuff tray or sensory tray and kids love watching the 'magic' of water beads. Just add water and leave them a few hours to grow!  

You can keep Water Beads in an airtight container for weeks. Or you can leave them to dry out over a number of days and rehydrated them to provide more hours of fun!

This product is non-toxic but is not suitable for children under 4 as it can present a choking hazard and play should be supervised at all times.

Once water beads have had their play life, simply add them to a pot plant or the garden as they are non toxic and will dissolve overtime.

Water beads in sensory tray with Wild CollectA animals and play boards


6. Dry Sensory Play: 

When you are creating sensory play for your little one, it can be great to have re-usable sensory materials. You can use dry red lentils, black beans, oats, dry chickpeas, rice or dry pasta. You can then pop it into a ziplock bag and re-use these sensory materials over and over. 

Black beans used in hide and seek sensory play in cupcake tray
Sensory tray with dry black beans
Oats, Black Beans and Corn sensory tray
Oats, Black Beans and Corn with farm themed toys

7. Chia Slime:

Kids seem to just gravitate towards slime... which can be a messy affair but this Chia Slime is a great Slime alternative and taste safe too! Adding corn flour binds it together and creates a more oozy slime-like consistency.

Chia Slime recipe: 

  • 1/4 cup of chia seeds
  • 1 3/4 cups of water
  • Food colouring
  • 3 -3 1/2 cups of Corn flour
  • Large container with lid

Chia Slime instructions

  1. Pour the chia seeds into a large container.
  2. Add water and mix with a spoon.
  3. Depending on how strong you want the colour, add 10-20 drops of food colouring. 
  4. Add the lid to your container and refrigerate for a few hours and ideally overnight to allow the chia seeds to fully absorb the water and become like a gel/slime!
  5. Uncover and add the corn starch a little at a time, stir with a spoon until fully incorporated. You may wish to stop at 3 cups, the texture will be more slimy/gooey. If you keep going to 3 and 1/2 cups, it will become a little more solid, like a traditional slime consistency. At this point, you may have to use your hands to knead it as it will be too thick for a spoon. 

We hope you have enjoyed our list of awesome sensory play recipes. Please do comment below, which one is your favourite or which one you want to try!

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