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  • Writer's pictureOur Playful Learning Journey

Sensory Play Tray - Tea Party Time!

A fun way to invite your child for some calming sensory play using their favourite tea set.

Sensory play tray for kids. Kmart black tray filled with purple lavender scented rice and tea set for play. Play idea for kids
Tea party time with a sensory tray!
Tea party time! How much fun is a pretend tea party?

Tea party play is always well loved around here and is something that the girls enjoy playing. To make an engaging play invitation we added in some of our purple lavender scented rice for some sensory play. This was well enjoyed and has been used several times already for some fun play. The lavender scent and pouring and scooping of the rice makes this a very calming play idea.

* Important safety note - This play tray contains small parts, which are a choking hazard for children under 3. This play idea is recommended for ages 3+. All play was supervised by an adult.

Benefits for your child of using a sensory play tray like this:

  • Provides a calming and mindful play experience

  • Develops fine motor skills

  • Promotes the development of hand eye coordination - scooping and pouring

  • Early maths skills - develops an understanding of capacity, full empty, half full etc.

  • Develops imagination

  • Develops creativity

  • Opportunity to role-play

  • Develops oral language when playing with others (e.g. using the tea set)

  • Lots of fun and so much more ...

To create a simple and fun sensory play tray we used:

  • A black tray from Kmart

  • Make Me Iconic tea set and extension set

  • Silicone moulds/cups from the kitchen

  • Purple lavender scented rice

  • Some pretend biscuits

  • Some Bauspiel lucite cubes

  • Our Rudie Nudie mat underneath to catch the spills (a rug or old sheet would work also)

We have had a bright pink Fisher Price tea set for years that has been so well loved and is still used. We recently got this Make Me Iconic wooden tea set. Kmart has an inexpensive wooden tea set too.

If you don't have tea set, you can use non-breakable cups from the kitchen or anything that can be used as cup. Miss 5 ended up using some silicone cups that are used for baking for pretend tea cups as well.

Play idea for kids. Sensory play tray using black Kmart tray and Make me Iconic tea set and purple lavender rice for sensory play.  Simple and fun play idea for children.
A tea set and rice make for a fun tea party!

Tips for using this sensory play tray:

To make pack up time easy and to reuse this tray many times, we put everything back into the tray and store it on the top of the fridge in our kitchen. This makes a great dinner prep activity, as the girls can play supervised on the kitchen floor while I cook tea.

Make clean up easy: Add a sheet, rug or similar underneath the tray to catch rice spills. The rice can be easily tipped back into the tray at the end.

To make this tray safer for a younger sibling - For Miss 2 to play we remove out the smaller parts (mini tea bags, lucite cubes, mini biscuits) leaving the tea set, bigger biscuits and rice. She doesn't try to put the rice in her mouth. If your younger child is still mouthing, this tray wouldn't be appropriate yet.

To make this tray engaging for more than one play session try adding in:

  • A note pad or clip board and pencil to take orders.

  • Some plates to serve as a picnic.

  • Some teddy bears or soft toys to play picnic or cafe with.

  • Take the tray outdoors for some fun outside and fresh air (no need to worry about cleaning up the rice!)

  • There are so many play possibilities ...

Purple rice in a sensory play tray for kids with a tea set and pretend biscuits.
Coloured rice is a fun sensory tray base.

Kids sensory play tray with purple lavender rice and a tea set
Miss 5 added in extra items while playing

Pretend cups of tea


I hope you enjoyed this blog post. If your child enjoys tea party play, this play idea may be worth trying. Remember you can use things you already have at home (get creative with substitutions!). We would love to know if you do try this at home/in your classroom.

You can find us on Instagram @our.playful.learning.journey or on Pinterest @ourplayfullearningjourney.

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Until next time, have fun learning in a playful way xx

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