Start using tray activities in your classroom! Trays are super engaging and can build many skills with very little prep! Tray activities are perfect for centers, morning or departure table time, and/or small group. It’s easy to mix it up by using different trays, manipulatives, and tweezers for various themes and learning concepts. And friends, all of these trays I found at the Dollar Tree. Dollar Tree often has fun trays for various seasons and holidays so check them out. Let’s jump right in!
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Fill the Tray! It is as simple as it sounds: students simply fill the tray. This is great for younger learners and toddlers. Students will be working on hand-eye coordination, fine motor development, crossing the midline, and possibly counting. Use a fun tray with mini erasers or pom poms. Always add a set of tweezers for students to use if they wish for added fine motor work!
Scoop and Fill! Put a tray in a sensory bin or sensory tub for students to fill! This is a super simple to set up but so much learning is happening here (fine motor, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, explore capacity and measurement, counting possibly)! If students are working together, they are now developing oral language and social skills as they talk and share materials and space. This sensory bin has beans, tiny pom-poms, mini erasers, a pineapple tray, and scoops. Click here to find out how to color beans for a sensory bin.
Make Patterns! Set out pom-poms and these fabulous trays for students to make patterns! Simple, easy, and so engaging. I have the trays pictured and a tub of these poms poms available all year long in my math center. My preschool students CHOOSE to play with them all the time.
Sort by Colors or Size! Put colored dots in the bottom of a tray like this ice cube tray, and students can sort by color. I love these pom poms because they are different sizes and textures, so they can be used for tons of sorting activities! Grab a tray with three parts and sort by size… small, med, and large by taping a pom pom to the bottom of each section.
Sort Letters in a Cupcake Pan! Students need tons and tons of letter activities throughout the day. Grab a cupcake pan and place a cupcake liner in each one. Alternatively, you can also place a colored piece of paper in the bottom. Students can sort letter beads by color.
Roll and Sort! Roll and Sort is a fun game for younger students who are learning colors, how to sort, and one-to-one correspondence. Grab a chip and dip tray and place a colored dot in each section with a color dice in the middle. Use any math counter that matches your learning theme. Students roll the color dice, identify the color, and place that colored counter in the matching section.
Roll and Count! This super simple game is one of my students’ favorite counting activities. You will need a dice, tweezers, pom poms, and a tray. Students roll the dice and place that many in the tray. To help students who are developing one-to-one correspondence, have them count out the pom poms and place them in their other hand. Now they can check to make sure they counted correctly BEFORE they put it in the tray!
If you want students to practice adding, use two dice!
Themed Roll and Count! Find a fun tray or make a tray to match your learning theme. I made this beehive tray with a large egg carton, paint, and hot glue. Simple, but they absolutely loved it! Add themed mini erasers for extra fun. The Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby often have fun silicone seasonal trays that are fun, too, if you don’t want to make your own. Here are some on Amazon.
Number Count! Put magnet letters in the bottom of a cupcake pan (in order or randomly placed) for a fun and low prep counting game. Use fun mini erasers or math counters to match your learning theme or that interest your students.
You can also place magnet letters in the cupcake pan, and students can match various letter manipulatives in the pan.
Tray Letter Match! First, find any tray. I’m using this leftover valentine’s candy box and some letter beads. Write a letter on colored dot stickers and place the letter stickers you made in some of or all of the spots. Now you have a fun new letter matching game! Mix it up and use lowercase letter beads, so students have to match uppercase and lowercase letters.
Basic Letter Match! If you don’t have a themed tray, just use an ice cube tray to create a fun letter-matching game.
Now for your homework: Look in your closet, find a tray, and make an activity for your students! Sneak in math by adding a dice, dot stickers, or magnet numbers. Sneak in literacy by adding letter beads, dot stickers, or magnet letters. Be sure to tag me in the Facebook Group on Instagram! I can’t wait to see the activities you create.