Blog post

Ladybird Literacy Tray- learning to tell the time

April 30, 2017Rabbit Ideas

This ladybird literacy tray is a fun activity to help young chidlren to explore telling the time, through a story. This week we invested in a 1m square cement mixing tray. Named “Tuff Spot” or “Tuff Tray”, this type of activity is widely used in childcare or Early Years settings. It is a space where messy mark-making can be contained and easily tidied away, as well as resources put out as an “invitation to play” for a specific story, nursery rhyme etc. I am hooked!

To kick off, we started with a book I bought in the local library book sale for 20p. Eric Carle’s The Bad Tempered Ladybird is a classic; there is so much to be explored in terms of emotions, behaviour, art, time, animals, nature, or learning to tell the time.

We didn’t buy anything else especially for this ladybird literacy tray. We used a yellow ball as the sun, moving it around the tray as the time progresses throughout the story. The clocks we made from a stamp I had already, the animals were gathered from various boxes and bedrooms, we improvised for the ones we didn’t have (enter some painted pebbles for ladybirds, wasp, aphids and a Wookie as a skunk!)

The book The Bad-Tempered Ladybird and some props for the story.
A yellow ball worked for the sun, and painted rocks for the ladybirds and aphids.

Little loved gathering all of these objects and saw it as a great scavenger hunt, looking through the book to see what we needed to find next.

Once we had set it up together, it took a couple of readings through before he started to join in:

“All aphids mine! Haha!”

He also started to address the themes of the story himself: “You a naughty ladybird, you not share your dinner.”

The beauty of using the tray is that the activity can stay out for as long as you want it to, then be easily re-arranged, updated and tidied away, ready for the next one.

This is a great way to ‘unpack’ or explore a story; similar to “Story Sacks” or “Story bags”, but with greater flexibility. Little also loved getting completely involved, sitting in the middle of the tray and playing with the objects around him.

One o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock and the animals which enter the story at those times.
Using the clock stamp can help familiarise young children with the clock face and telling the time.

To develop this activity with older children, you could use the clock stamps to introduce the basics of telling the time. In the story, things happen at various “o’clock” times throughout the day- so each time can be used to introduce the relevant animal. This is a fun and playful way to start practicing ‘reading’ a clock; following the storyline makes it easy to do to this, too.

Have you ever used a literacy tray like this for Early Years literacy activities? Please share your pictures over on Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook, I’d love to see them!

Like the idea of the ladybird literacy tray? Pin it for later!

Ladybird literacy tray *Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links to products similar to ones we have used. If you purchase though the links, I may receive a small percentage of the profits to support the running of this blog. This will not affect the cost of the products to the buyer. 

*Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links to products similar to ones we have used. If you purchase though the links, I may receive a small percentage of the profits to support the running of this blog. This will not affect the cost of the products to the buyer. 

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Burnished Chaos

 Tactical Tuesday at Joanna Victoria

The ladybirds' adventures

Comments (15)

  • Teaching the Tiny

    April 30, 2017 at 6:56 am

    I love this idea! Haven’t got this book yet but by the look of this activity I think my little one needs it!

    1. rabbitideas

      April 30, 2017 at 6:58 am

      It is a classic! Thank you for reading. 🙂

  • Chantelle Hazelden (@MamaMummyMum)

    May 1, 2017 at 3:44 pm

    What a great use of the tray and a fantastic book to use an utter bargain for such a classic too! Thanks for sharing with #ReadWithMe

    1. rabbitideas

      May 1, 2017 at 9:21 pm

      Thank you!

  • Catherine @ Story Snug

    May 1, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    I’m a huge fan of story sacks but I’ve never made a story tray. There’s huge potential for using it in an Early Years classroom :o)


    1. rabbitideas

      May 1, 2017 at 9:22 pm

      That sounds great, Catherine, if you use it, please share your ideas with me on twitter. 🙂

  • mumjd

    May 1, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    What a lovely idea. Shame that my boys are way past this stage #readwithme

  • Joanna Bayford

    November 16, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    Really love this idea what a great way to encourage children with learning to tell the time.

  • Sarah

    November 16, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    Such a good idea, wish I’d seen this when my daughter was smaller! #bloggerpinparty

  • Alana – Burnished Chaos

    November 18, 2017 at 11:38 am

    What a great idea. I always find kids learn better when there’s something physical for them to see and interact with.
    Thank you for joining #FamilyFunLinky x

  • Vicky

    November 20, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    I was always dreadful at telling the time. Still am. Wish these ideas had been around when I was little! Fab post as always. #tacticaltuesdays

    1. Jenny Rumney

      November 21, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      Thank you!

  • Claire @ The ladybirds’ adventures

    November 24, 2017 at 11:06 pm

    I love this actovity. We haven’t read this book though! Thanks for joining #bloggerpinparty

    1. Jenny Rumney

      November 25, 2017 at 5:44 pm

      It is a great book- I recommend it if you get the chance. Thank you for reading!

  • Jemma

    November 29, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Love this idea – what a great way to get kids to tell the time! #bloggerpinparty

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