Gratnells activity tray competition

We had a great response to our competition to win Gratnells activity trays, with loads of new and interesting activity ideas being suggested. The lucky winners of a pack of four Gratnells Activity Trays have been announced on the competition Facebook post, well done to them!

As we had so many great ideas, we’ve brought together some of our favourite ideas from the whole competition and summarised them below to provide some inspiration for your future tray activities.

Alphabet Scoop & Spell

FB Joanne Murray

Joanne Murray’s simple idea uses lettered pebbles, sand and a variety of scoops, to combine fine motor skills with letter recognition and early word formation. We think this is a great way to encourage exploration of letters (and/or numbers) at a child’s own pace, and it’s such a flexible idea that children can take it in any direction they like.

Goldilocks & the Three Bears

Alison Gascoyne suggested using oats and small world toys to create the scene from Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Setting the scene and allowing the children to re-create a story they know well is a great way to encourage both creativity and co-operative play.

Ice Play

FB Vanessa Uden

This idea from Vanessa Uden uses coloured and scented ice cubes to stimulate a variety of senses in a simple activity tray exercise. One of the great things about using ice is being able to observe the melting process, and change play as the water changes state. As with all the best sensory play ideas, this allows the children to explore the materials as they see fit, and is a great introduction to some basic scientific ideas.

Minibeast Exploration

FB Jenny Pratt

Jenny Pratt’s tray contained lots of minibeasts along with examples of likely habitat materials, and magnifying glasses to aid investigation. The addition of information cards make this a great introduction to exploring and identifying animals in nature.

Bottle Tops Fine Motor Skills

FB Marion Ryan

Marion Ryan suggested using bottle tops to improve fine motor skills. With a variety of implements such as tweezers and spoons, this simple set up offers the opportunity to practise precise picking up and dropping of the lids into containers of your choice. Depending on the variety of lids available, children can use this activity to practice counting, sorting, and all manner of other basic key skills.

Cornflour Play

We had a couple of mentions of Cornflour play, a classic sensory tray activity. A simple mix of cornflour and water mix produces a non-Newtonian fluid which can provide hours of wonderment and fun. As a liquid which displays solid properties when placed under stress, this mixture provides a great introduction to scientific enquiry for youngsters, and can easily be combined with any number of small world play activities.

Dinosaur Play

FB Debra Taylor

Debra Taylor brought together a few dinosaur ideas into this activity tray idea, including melting ice dinosaurs, buried bones and hatching eggs. This idea is a great example of using a number of different sensory objects as part of one consistent theme, and offers opportunity to create any number of imaginative stories.

Winter Wonderland.

FB Lauren Mccallum

Lauren Mccallum chose a theme to suit the season with her Winter Wonderland activity. Snow-themed sensory play is always a hit whether it uses the real thing or not, and is a flexible setting where a little bit of magic can be added to regular small world games.

You can see all of the competition entries on  our Facebook post here.
We love the versatility that Gratnells activity trays have for a range of sensory, messy and imaginative play as well as arts and crafts. They are perfect for containing mess in or creating small worlds in. We also had a few activity tray ideas ourselves:

dinosaur play

 8 Dinosaur Small World Play IdeasUnder the Sea Small World Play a


8 Ideas for Under the Sea Small World Play

under the sea phonics

Under the Sea Phonics Play

early years sensory activities

Autumn Sensory Tray

sensory mark making

Christmas Sensory Mark Making

Competition Terms and Conditions

By entering our 2016 Gratnells Tray Competition you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions set out below:

1. No purchase is necessary. To enter the competition you will need to submit an idea or image of your activity, by posting to our Facebook page, no later than 5pm on 16th January 2016;
2. The closing date is 5pm on 16th January 2016. Entrants must be aged 18 or over; all entrants must reside within the United Kingdom;
3. No entries allowed from competitors, agents or third parties and you must be an employee within an early years setting (a nursery, pre school or play group) to enter;
4. All entries received after 5pm on 16th January 2016 will be ineligible;
5. Any entry deemed by The Consortium to be defamatory, offensive or abusive will be instantly disqualified and will not be presented on the gallery and will be removed from our Facebook page.
6. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received or incompletely received for whatsoever reason;
7. All entries will be considered by a judging panel which consists of employees of The Consortium;
8. The winner of the competition will be notified by direct message on Facebook on 19th January 2016 and will have until 22nd December to claim the prize by replying with the name and delivery address of their early years setting.
9. Cash alternative will not be offered. This prize is not transferable;
10. The prize on offer is 3 sets of 4 Gratnells A3 trays. 1 set will be awarded to each winner;
11. The judges’ decision is final;
12. The promoter is The Consortium, Hammond Way, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8RR;
13. The competition is governed by the laws of England and Wales.;
14. No liability for lost or misdirected applications will be taken by The Consortium;
15. By entering the completion you assigned all and any intellectual property rights in relation to the entries to this competition to The Consortium; A selection of Ideas and photographs will be featured in a round up post on our Early Years Inspiration Zone.
16. Submission of this entry will be taken to mean acceptance of these terms and conditions.