Creating Activity Spaces Using Trays

Tray with buttons

Button Tray

Trays can be wonderful little spaces.

Trays usually hold things that we want to group together. They are great for holding items in place because of their raised sides. Trays are usually something that draws our attention because of the numerous objects that they can hold.

Trays can be made into activity spaces.

For older persons we sometimes need to create an environment that promotes activities. Trays can be made into instant activity spaces and can be set and used just about anywhere. An older person can sit at a table, in their favorite chair, or outdoors. You can even make an activity tray for a long car ride if you wish. Creative activities, sorting activities, writing activities, sorting and more can be created on a tray.

The types of trays used…

can be anything you have on hand. Depending on what you are using it for you may consider, cookie sheets, foil trays or tins, pie tins, muffin pans, chip and dip trays, or any regular wooden tray.

Lap Tray with letter and card writing materials.

Lap tray filled with letter and card writing materials.

craft tray with thread, needles, and fabric yo-yos

Craft tray using large tin tray

Ideas for Creating Activity trays

Creating activity trays can in large part be something that your loved one will be interested in doing. However, you can introduce something new. Look at their past and current interests and start there. Here are some ideas:

  • Tray of buttons to sort through, talk about (there are many interesting ones now), string on a string, sew onto shirt, or use as sensory (feeling the different textures of buttons).
  • Create a coupon tray complete with coupons from the newspaper and scissors for clipping coupons.
  • Make a greeting card/writing letter tray with paper, stationery, pens, stamps, greeting cards both to give and ones received. Also include post cards to send and those received. Include an address book as well.
  • Create a painting tray complete with paper or small canvas, paints, and brushes.
  • Does your loved one have lots of loose photographs? Make a tray for photographs to go through and talk about each person. Write the names of people down when remembered.
  • Create a craft tray with your older family member’s favorite craft supplies. String beads into a necklace, sand down a wooden item such as a bird house, form something from a ball of clay, etc…
  • Make a sensory tray with nature items, craft items, or other items to touch, listen to, look at, taste, or smell.
  • Set up a tray with a junk drawer full of stuff to sort through. Don’t we all have one of those drawers that from time to time becomes a mess? Ask them to sort items into muffin tins.


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