Book Review: 50 Fantastic Ideas for Tuff Tray Mathematics by Sally Wright.

So I’m hoping that you get this feeling too? That feeling that a new book you’ve been expecting arrives and it’s just brimming with inspiration. Today I got that feeling when Sally Wright’s latest edition to the “50” series, 50 Fantastic Ideas for Tuff Tray Mathematics.

Now this isn’t a huge tome that requires your devoted attention (and that isn’t a criticism, it’s certainly an advantage), this is most definitely one to dip in and out of and be inspired each time that you do.

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If you compare this book to Sally’s previous book, 50 Fantastic Ideas for Tuff Trays, then you can see that she has also been on a journey or learning and development in her practice. The activities in the new book are very much based around the way the children have interpreted them and not necessarily with a fixed purpose from the adult.

The book is also organised into some great sections which feature in daily nursery life such as schemas (transporting), small world play, mark making and creative play to name a few. One of my favourite sections was “use what you’ve got” as it really didn’t require anything that any reasonably resources early years setting would have.

I’m reading this book while on a week off at home (no abroad holiday for us this year!) and it’s frustrating. No, not the lack of abroad holiday, but the fact I’m at home and really want to go to Nursery and get out all the scales we own and pile on the porridge oats and scoops (You’ll need to look at page 28 to see what I’m burbling on about), however I can use this time to prepare my plan of attack with the tuff tray.

I’m not mathematically minded in the slightest, physical play and storytelling are my specialities, however this book doesn’t require you to be Carol Vorderman (or Rachel Riley depending on how old you are!) it just wants you to set up an inviting tuff tray that the children can come along to and not feel pressured into doing an activity carefully curated by you to crowbar them into completing an outcome of the EYFS.

If I have to say one negative thing about this book it’s this, 50 activities aren’t enough. I’ll have gone through them in a week if I have my way!

Sally, HELP!!

Real Life Practice – The Podcast

So, after a lovely chat with the brilliant James Tunnell from Nursery Nook today about my first Podcast with Greg Bottrill it got my brain ticking over with ideas. So, welcome to the podcast family “Real Life Practice” (ta-dah!)

However that’s where you, the lovely followers of my blog and social media pages come in. If anybody who currently works in a nursery or playgroup or is a childminder would be willing to chat with me and share their own ideas and practice for different subjects such as:

Maths and Numbers
Enabling Environments
Sustained Shared Thinking
Physical Play
Outdoor Play and Learning.

It would be great to keep them bite-sized as they are more accessible and “listenable” if that’s even a word! I record them using zoom but only use the audio of it but it’s nicer to talk to somebody when we can see each other and, luckily, a zoom recording also gives you the audio soundtrack separately which is what I use to produce the podcast, so we can happily record it in our pyjamas! (That is optional of course)

If anybody is interested then they can email me to go through it and arrange a convenient time to zoom call them to record. My email address is

Exploring Personal Pedagogy – Greg Bottrill

In the sixth video in the series, Glenn (AKA The Male Practitioner) had the awesome opportunity to chat with author, trainer and consultant Greg Bottrill about his own journey into Early Years and what’s influenced his own Personal Pedagogy.

You can find out more about Greg and Adventure Island by visiting his website at

He’s also on facebook, visit by clicking HERE

Don’t forget the other videos in the series:

Lyndsey Slessor – Nursery Manager

Alice Sharp – Experiential Play and Adventures with Alice

James Tunnell – Nursery Nook

Vanessa Dooley – Jigsaw EYC

Sally Wright – The Ark Groups

Greg’s original book “Can I go and Play now?” is available by clicking our affiliates link:

His latest book, “school and the magic of children” is available from our affiliate link:

Exploring Personal Pedagogy – Lyndsey Slessor

In the fifth video in the series Glenn (AKA The Male Practitioner) talks to experienced Nursery Manager Lyndsey Slessor about her career and what shapes her own Personal Pedagogy.

Next week on Exploring Personal Pedagogy will be Greg Bottrill.

Why not visit our previous interviews:

Alice Sharp – Experiential Play and Adventures with Alice

James Tunnell – Nursery Nook

Vanessa Dooley – Jigsaw EYC

Sally Wright – The Ark Groups

Meanwhile, in Next!

Now, how exciting was this discovery whilst browsing round Next?

A solid wood dice, ok it’s meant to be a doorstop by that just means it should last!

I saw this on a shelf and instantly thought if maths games, counting activities and talking about numbers.

Wish I’d bought it now!


Fine Motor Threading

I was having a wander round Home Sense today and saw this pasta on the shelf. I think this would be amazing for threading, working on fine motor control and hand/eye co-ordination.

A bargain at £2.49 as well!

Transient Art

We’ve been busy this week in my setting. On Monday the children came in to find lots of beans, lentils and other dried pulses on the tuff tray.

Using a picture of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, as well as some real ones, we left it up to the children’s imaginations to create the rest!

This isn’t the first time I’ve used Transient Art. Here’s some pictures of a training sessions about it I attended in 2018.

The Care Inspectorate in Scotland have produced a very useful toolkit called “Our Creative Journey” which gives some hints towards using Transient Art as a child led experience. You can find that here: