Contain small-parts toy play with a tray, cookie sheet or roasting pan

perler.jpgKobie's hack solves two problems at once — mess and babyproofing:

My daughters have recently discovered the delight of playing with HAMA beads (also known as Perler beads or fuse beads). This is small beads that you stack in a pattern and then iron to form a picture. When they started this hobby my middle daughter was four and rather clumsy so we were always picking more beads up from the floor than off the table. Having a 1 year-old didn't make this very safe. I happened on my roasting tray and gave this to her in a moment of genius and problem solved! She now works with the beads in the tray so we now have virtually no mess! This also works for collage making, play dough or any other games or hobbies that have tiny bits needing to be contained.

Yes! We happened upon this hack when my son got one of those million-part LEGO sets as a birthday gift. We used a cookie sheet, and, eventually, found some spare trays which we now just store with the LEGOs. Good use for disposable foil or plastic trays as well.

Expand this hack to any messy or small-parts activity: sand play, small jigsaw puzzles, even messy marker drawing and eating (keeps stuff off the table better than a placemat).


  1. Stefani W. says

    I’ve heard you can spread a quilt or blanket on the floor to contain small LEGOs and make cleanup easier.
    Stefani W.

  2. Lisa J. says

    One of the first things I bought J when he became a “preschooler” was a cookie sheet of his own. Useful for so many things. It’s also great for magnetic things such as letters and numbers.

  3. says

    I use this all the time, it´s a Montessori thing. It teaches the kids to limit themselves to a certain space, and also to finish one activity and put it away before starting another. The tray must have handles and be big enough for the kid to carry by themselves.
    The mat on the floor is used by the Montessori method for the same purpose.