Tinker Tray


This creativity activity is a fun introduction to making Tinker Trays – a collection of materials that are put into divided containers that your children can use to create whatever they wish!

Tinker Trays can be really magical. The purpose is to allow children to exercise their creativity, problem solving and decision making skills, and develop their independence. Where an adult may simply see a collection of random objects, children see great possibilities.

You do need to be organised in advance for this activity, though – it’s not one to try when you’ve just got home after a busy day at work and there are a hundred other things to deal with!  But, once you’re prepped and ready to let your child’s imagination run free, then this is the perfect activity to give you a few hours’ peace.

So, how do you prepare a Tinker Tray?

The container can be anything from wooden trays and paint trays, to a muffin tin or your own makeshift Tinker Tray made from recycled boxes. There are no ‘rules’ to making an amazing tray, but so that your child will get the most from it, and want to keep going back, we recommend including:

Design tools 

Anything to get your child arty! Include pencils, crayons, felt tip pens, paper, ruler or tape. (There’s less need for design tools if your child is very young.)

Things to build with 

There really is no limit here! Have a look through the toy box and gather bits of Lego, wheels, (the tops from food pouches – think Ella’s Kitchen. These lids make excellent wheels!), buttons, beads, pebbles, leaves – anything that can inspire creativity. Raid the pound shops, and remember not to throw away anything that could come in handy!


Anything with the ability to stick, twist or clip. Use straws, paper clips, craft sticks, foil, toothpicks, tie twists, pegs, elastic bands, pipe cleaners, tape, playdough, etc.


As much bling as you can bear!

It’s easy to change your original tray into holiday themes and seasons – use your imagination and follow your child’s interests.  

We’d love to see the creativity that comes from your homemade Tinker Trays! Submit a photo to social media with the hashtag #learnwithOJO. We can’t wait to see!

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