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Gruffalo Small World / Gruffalo Tuff Tray

Gruffalo Small World / Gruffalo Tuff Tray

We love all the Julia Donaldson books but the Gruffalo is a sure favourite in our house. After spending 3 months shielding, we wanted to do something really special for our toddlers first play date so we decided to create our first ever small world/tuff tray, inspired by Julia Donaldson’s Gruffalo. 


Our step by step guide to recreate this Gruffalo inspired play scene is below.  We have tried to use resources that are easily sourced and relatively cheap but have included some alternative suggestions which may also work well. You may also decide to split the scene over several tuff trays/containers to allow more space to play with each mini scene, or flow one scene to the other. 

Gruffalo inspired play scene – Snakes’ logpile house. 

Set up time:

This took us approximately 2 hours to plan and one hour to arrange. We have taken the planning part away for you but we would advise leaving approx an hour for set up using the ideas below. 

Equipment list in a flash:

*Tuff tray or large container.

*Gruffalo characters




*large and small garden pebbles

*glitter card in blue, green and yellow

*toy food; apples, fish, mushrooms, bread

*shoe box

*brown paint

*garden leaves

*ice cream cone

*water proof containers

* toy trees

*cereals e.g. rice krispies and cocoa pops

*craft leaves

*wooden log plaques


*other woodland animals and mini beasts in toy form or print outs.

How to recreate the scene using the equipment above:

Gruffalo inspired small world – Owls’ treetop house 

* Gruffalo characters – We used soft plush toys from both Waterstones and toy store Jac in a box in Congleton. Alternatively you could print characters and glue them to lollipop sticks.

*Foxs’ underground house – You could purchase a cave or create one from papier Mache. We used what we had to hand so buried him in sand and covered him in slate pieces from the garden.

*Large garden pebbles – Place near the Fox house where Mouse is supposed to meet the Gruffalo ‘Here by these rocks. And his favourite food is roasted fox’.

*Apples – Use real or toy apples to create ‘roasted fox’ for the Gruffalo. 

*Owls’ treetop house – We used an old shoe box and painted it brown. We cut a hole in for owl and some small holes in the top and sides to hold some plant leaves from our garden. 

*Owls’ stream – We used glitter card and along the edges placed some small garden pebbles. Add a stick  from a woodland walk and a butterfly nearby for mouse to walk across. The butterfly we used was Lanka Kade available from Babipur. Add a toy ice cream cone since according to mouse, the Gruffalos ‘favourite food is owl ice cream’. If you don’t have containers to make the stream use coloured rice or an organza scarf.

*Log pile house – we collected sticks from a woodland walk and glued the together with a glue gun.

*Snakes Lake – We used two small containers ,filled them with water and added blue food colouring. The containers we used were from Playmobil but any containers are fine. Add a few bits of dark coloured foliage and use chocolate krispies or cocoa pops in the background. Add a small toy frying pan to recreate ‘his favourite food is scrambled snake’. If available, add some lily pads. 

*Deep dark wood – Use a selection of toy trees. Alternatively, you can print some images of trees off or make them from kitchen roll holders.  Broccoli is also a good choice for trees.

*Gruffalo’s home – We scattered our trees but in hindsight, it would have been nice to have some trees arranged as a dark wood leading to the Gruffalo. We created a sand mound and placed some real mushrooms nearby and a slice of bread “You’ll taste good on a slice of bread”.

*The grounds – We used a combination of green and yellow glitter card, rice krispies and cocoa pops to fill the spaces between props.  To keep costs down, used supermarket own brands.

*Other accessories – Use real leaves or craft leaves scattered throughout and twigs. We also placed some small wooden log plaques around fox, owl and snake. Acorns can be printed, collected or brought. 

*Gruffalo letters – If we were to repeat this, we would use some of the log plaques and a wood.

*Other optional extras:  frog, flies, fish, woodpecker and ants (feel free to just use print outs or whatever toys are to hand).

Gruffalo inspired tuff tray – Fox’s underground house. 

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A special thanks.....

This post, and some of our upcoming tuff tray and small world ideas have been kindly sponsored by Small Eco Steps of Chester, an independent stockist of children’s clothing and toys. Details to follow.  Please click image below to be taken to their website. 

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