Our kids got a lot of Melissa and Doug gifts this year for Christmas. I have always loved the company, and I also really like the way they package their products. Many of the smaller toys (magnets, play food, etc.) come in these cute little shallow wooden boxes or trays.
I have always kept them, thinking I could find uses for them in some way or another. Well, yesterday I was cleaning the sea of toys we call the playroom, and realized I have a ton of those little boxes and we’re doing nothing with them. So, instead of tossing them in the trash, I brainstormed and compiled a short list of ideas!
To be honest, I feel silly because the list of things I can make the trays into are things I have wanted to do with my kids for a while! Yay!
1. “Tinker Trays”– You can set up all sorts of small pieces and items that kids can work with. They love sorting, organizing, and even creating patterns and art work. Meri Cherry has a lovely post about her “Tinker Trays” if you are interested in exploring this idea.
My oldest also loves to sort and collect pieces of “nature,” as he calls them. He collects lots of stones, acorns, leaves, etc. This is a great way to help them explore nature and understand what parts of nature are alike and different. You can encourage children to separate things by color, texture, shape, or just stand back and watch their little minds work.
This type of tray really gives the children to be creative and do what they want with it. It is definitely my favorite way to use old Melissa and Doug trays!
2. Sand Tray– This is something that works really well when teaching younger children to recognize and write the alphabet or sight words. You don’t have to use sand though, sugar or salt work just as well! I usually stick with salt, because I’m pretty sure my kids would figure out it was sugar and they would be licking it off the table in no time 😉
3. Drawer Organizer– Give one of the trays a little makeover and stick it in your junk drawer! You could also add some soft decorative fabric to create a nice spot to keep your jewelry.
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