How to create a colourful sorting tray toy

I came across this idea while looking for inspiration for compact, mess-free toys and activities that would entertain our daughter on a recent holiday.

She loves playing with fiddly things and she’s just learned her colours and will talk about the colour of pretty much everything, saying which things are the same. So this sorting tray toy full of little, colourful knick-knacks was perfect.

sorting tray toy with colourful items

How to create a sorting tray toy

It’s very simple to create a sorting tray toy of your own and the great thing is that once you have the tray itself, the other components are entirely up to you.

I was spoiled for choice when I went to the hardware store to find a case with small compartments. Although they had an aisle dedicated to plastic trays, cases, drawers, and other storage solutions, I ventured further in and found this one among the toolboxes.

The rubber covering on the corners may not make it so attractive to look at, but will hopefully mean it survives being dropped on our tiled floors.

I chose a case with a lid because this will make it easy to store and carry around without fear of losing all the contents. But if you plan to keep it at home, you could use an open tray or even an egg box.

What can go in a colour sorting game?

I made a trip to a local haberdashery/craft store (where I could get SERIOUSLY carried away). There I picked up some big, colourful buttons and beads, as well as some pompoms in assorted colours.

I also had a rummage around at home and found some more bits and bobs that I could add in.

Assortment of buttons, pompoms and beads for a sorting tray toy

If you live in a remote area where it’s hard to get hold of crafting supplies, you could always use things like pasta shapes, bottle tops and coloured stones to fill your tray.

The idea is that the items can be grouped into colours and placed in different sections of the tray. By having the same item in various colours, they can be grouped by type too (the pompoms here, the buttons here, etc.).

Of course, if your little one is still at the age when they might put these things in their mouth, make sure they are supervised at all times while playing with their sorting tray.

I’d also suggest having plenty of spares to top up your collection of items because things will inevitably get lost over time.

The verdict

My daughter’s initial excitement over this new collection of colourful trinkets didn’t last quite as long as I’d hoped. Although she was intrigued by the pompoms and made a little pile of them, the toy only held her attention for about five minutes.

However the more she played with it, the more of an interest she developed. We have also added some things we picked up on our trip, like shells and tiny fir cones. It’s lovely that some of the items now have a story behind them.

What do you think?

If you’ve tried this idea with your children, I’d love to hear what they thought of it. Did you add anything different to it? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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