Inspired by Jennie from Edspire I started off the other day by taking the children to Wickes. Now as it went this might not seem that exciting an outing for a toddler and a baby, but I was there on a mission. I've been reading about the messy place adventures that Jennie has with her twins in their tuff spot and realised that this would be perfect for Little Miss C.
If you're not familiar with them a tuff spot is simply a large octagonal plastic tray that you can put on the floor to provide a playing surface for small children. They were originally sold as mixing trays for builders (hence going to Wickes to buy one!) but several years ago some early years practitioners realised how practical they were for children and a new purpose for them was found.
The beauty of a tuff spot is that the surface is large enough for pre-schoolers to actually sit in it with whatever they're doing, whilst the lip around the edge means that the contents stay contained. This is fantastic at the moment as Master C is rolling around the floor and trying to crawl, yet I can let LMC play with something a bit messy or with small parts and it is all contained nicely.
We started off our tuff spot adventures with two bags of value rice from a local supermarket. It only cost 80p for 2kg of long grain rice, but this is plenty when spread out on the tuff spot and LMC thought it fantastic that she could run her fingers through it and explore the texture without me telling her not to make a mess.
I added in a couple of trucks that were originally sold as sand toys and she was in her element. Rice was moved around the tuff spot in the dumper truck and she spent ages acting out scenarios with them. Once she started to tire from this she then fetched some of the pots and pans that she has in her play kitchen and started to "cook" with the rice. In the last couple of weeks the whole family have been served rice based meals from the tuff spot and Master C was even presented with a rice "birthday cake" earlier today. Doing all this cooking on the tuff spot meant that any spillages were easily contained and any spills over the edge were quickly hoovered up afterwards.
Cleaning up at the end of her play became another activity in itself. A cheap dustpan and brush was the ideal way to sweep up what was in the tuff spot and once again the design of the tuff spot is such that LMC could do much of the sweeping herself without her mess escaping. She loved this and in particular the "responsibility" of cleaning it all up herself.
LMC already completely loves our tuff spot, and I'm envisioning loads of ideas of new ways in which I can use it, for both children, inside the house and if summer ever comes in the garden too. Looking online I've found huge amounts of inspiration as to how to use it and I hope to share what we do here on the blog too. If you've got any play suggestions then I'd love to hear them.