Small World Play: The Farm

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When I was asked by Emma at Adventures of Adam to take part in her Tuff Spot A – Z Blog Hop Challenge I jumped at the chance as I’m always trying to find ways of making more use of our tuff tray. I knew straight away I was going to do a farmyard tuff tray as we recently added some more farm animals and a barn to our HappyLand set and the Little Tots have been playing with these every day. So I knew building a farm on a larger (and messier) scale would be a big hit with them.

farmyard tuff tray 1

Although the Little Tots I currently care for are past the ‘putting everything in their mouth’ stage I still made this an edible farm as cereal provides such a great sensory experience for little hands. I used a huge bag of basic oats on the bottom of the tray and added some Weetabix for hay bales and some small pots of Shredded Wheat for the animals food. These are the cereal we currently had in the cupboard at the moment but any type of cereal could be used. Rice Krispies, Cheerios and All-bran would all make great alternatives.

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Georgia has played with this pretty much all day, breaking for lunch and then straight back to it again. Building small world play scenes is a great way to inspire their imaginative play and encourage lots of story telling.

farmyard tuff tray

Georgia invented so many different stories for the animals and farmers and of course it wasn’t long until the Frozen characters were added in and the whole thing became a farm covered in snow which led to even more story telling.

This farmyard tuff tray has held her attention so well that she even turned down a trip to the park today in favour of staying indoors and playing with her farm.  I’ve kept this out ready for the Little Tots coming tomorrow to enjoy as well and can’t wait to see their faces when they arrive.

farmyard tuff tray

Our tuff tray is this one from Amazon (affiliate link) but this would also work well in a shallow tray or box or anything that helps to contain the mess.

Visit our Tuff Tray Ideas Pintrest board for more inspiration or check out all our tuff tray blog posts.

Want to join the challenge? Check out Tuff Spot A – Z Challenge Inspiration Activities over on Adventures of Adam and post your photos to their Facebook wall.

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Areas of Learning

As a childminder I am required to track the development of the children I care for using the 7 areas of Learning and Development as set out in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Using the Early Years Outcomes (EYO’s) as a guide I was able to observe the following during play:

  • Communication & Language: maintains concentration, single channeled attention, listens and responds to ideas expressed by others, understands how and why questions, using language to imagine and recreate experiences, adding a narrative to their play.
  • Physical development: enjoying sensory experiences, picking up small objects, handling tools, objects and malleable materials with increasing control.
  • Understanding the World: comments and asks questions about the natural world, talks about things they have observed such as plants, animals and natural things.
  • Personal, social and emotional development: engaging in pretend play, playing alongside other children, playing with a familiar adult, explaining own knowledge and asking questions of others.
  • Literacy: making marks and tracing letters and number in the oats
  • Maths: counting the animals, sorting by size, making patterns in the oats, filling and emptying containers, talking about shapes, using positional language.
  • Expressive arts and design: exploring wide range of media and sensory exploration, describing textures, playing make believe, building stories around toys, engages in imaginative role play based on own first hand experience.

The Early Years Outcomes document is a non-statutory guide to support practitioners. It can be used by childminders, nurseries and others, such as Ofsted, throughout the early years as a guide to making best-fit judgements about whether a child is showing typical development for their age, may be at risk of delay or is ahead for their age. 

Read my blog post about Early Years Outcomes v Development Matters.



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  • Emma Edwards

    I love the use of the oats! Thank you for linking up with #TuffSpotTuesday. You are a star x

  • Karen Bell

    What a lovely imaginary play experience with sensory exploration too. A great idea to use cereals, it works brilliantly…and weetabix hay bales is fab!
    Thanks for sharing #LetKidsBeKids

  • Lukeosaurus And Me

    I have seen these types of trays before, but I had no idea what they were called or where I could get them. I have to say, this looks amazing! Luke is 18 months old and I am sure he would enjoy something similar to this, perhaps on a smaller scale. I feel a tag inspired to start experimenting with mini worlds. I am also studying child care, so the EYO bits at the end are wonderful! Thank you for sharing such a great post, Ray xx #ToddlerApprovedTuesday
    http://www.lukeosaurusandme.blogspot.co.uk

  • Love this. My 3 year old loves this kind of imaginative play. #ToddlerApprovedTuesday

  • Laura Powell-Corbett

    I’ve seen so many tuff tray things recently and I hadn’t even heard of them until last month! Maybe I need to look at this!!!x

  • Wow this is amazing! What a fab idea! xx #toddlerapprovedtuesday

  • My Bored Toddler

    Love this! How creative! I’ve pinned and shared – very impressed