Gratnells trays* have become almost ubiquitous with school classrooms in the UK. They are used for so many aspects of organisation in schools from storing individual children’s work and organising stationary to transporting and storing science equipment by technicians in secondary schools.
For many primary school children Gratnells trays are their most prized school possession. I can remember when I was little, how important my school tray was to me. As a child, it is one of the only things at school that truly belongs just to you. You take pride in it, your name is written on it and it’s where you safely keep all your precious work and pictures.
I was intrigued to learn that Gratnells trays are now about even more than just storing children’s work and stationary. They are encouraging schools to use their trays as a resource in their own right. They’ve started an initiative on social media called ‘What’s In My Tray?‘ which provides teaching staff with tonnes of ideas of how to use Gratnells trays as a learning resource. They have brilliant activity suggestions for different subjects ranging from creativity to science.
We had great fun trying out their Sand and Water Tray Play Idea. Following their instructions, which can be found here, we filled one tray with sand, buckets, spades and sieves and watched and supported the children exploring and enjoying the sensory experience of indoor sand play, without the need for a sand pit.
We filled our other tray with water and toy sea creatures and observed the children playing imaginatively with the sea creatures in the water, creating their own little stories and discussing which creatures sank and floated!
What do we like about the ‘What’s in My Tray?’ Initiative?
- Vast Amount of Free Ideas- What’s particularly wonderful about this initiative is the sheer amount of free activities that they’ve shared for teachers to use. There’s something for almost every topic you could think of, from amazing art activities to fantastic science practicals. The Sand and Water activity we tried out, was simple, yet so effective and great fun for the children.
- Easy to Use– Not only are the activities accessible and easy to find online (they are conveniently organised into subject categories on their website), but the actual activities are written out in a concise, easy to follow manner. The activities include instructions, equipment lists and photographs, enabling you to quickly and easily carry out the activity with your class, without the need for lots of planning. Ultimately saving teaching staff valuable time.
- Utilise Existing Resource in a Different Way– School budgets are tight but chances are most schools already have spare Gratnells trays in the classrooms, so it’s great that this initiative probably doesn’t require schools to go out and buy something new. For the Sand and Water Tray activity, we thought it was a brilliant idea to use the trays as a container for this. Reusing existing equipment also sets a good example to the children we teach, helping to promote recycling and sustainability.
- Keeps It Tidy- We loved that by carrying out these activities in the trays, the mess is contained. Art equipment, paper, sensory play resources etc aren’t going to be scattered across the room quite as easily- if the task is carried out inside the tray.
- Size– Because the Gratnells trays are much smaller than a tuff tray, they can be used in areas where space is limited. Their size also encourages them to be used for individual or paired work.
- Collaboration– As a teacher, time is a premium and therefore collaboration that’s going to save time by sharing great ideas is brilliant. Teaching staff can not only search for Gratnells tray’s ideas on their site and social media channels but they could also share their ideas on social media with the hashtag #whatsinmytray to inspire others.
For more ‘What’s In My Tray?’ ideas visit www.learning-rooms.co.uk
*Please note this article is sponsored and we received some sample resources for the purpose of this review. However, all thoughts and opinions are our own.