Tinker Tray: An Easy DIY Gift for Kids


Are you looking for a simple DIY gift for kids? Make a fun DIY tinker tray box for them. These tinker tray boxes are a perfect gift for a child in preschool or early elementary. This is a really unique gift that will encourage open-ended creativity.

I decided to surprise my son with a gift this week….a tinker tray box.  I had so much fun putting a tinker tray gift together for him.  When provided with a wide variety of materials kids can really use their imaginations and create so many wonderful and different things.

I also love that the materials are so versatile.  They can be used for fine motor activities, inventions, or craft activities.

Make a tinker tray:  An easy DIY gift for kids.

Tinker trays are great in a preschool, pre-k classroom creation station, but today I made a portable tinker tray….a simple DIY gift that is great for kids of all ages. I love the open-ended opportunities that a tinker tray provides. If you have a child on your Christmas list or need a birthday present for a special little one, this is a great DIY gift that is easy to put together. Let me show you how I made my box.

Start with a Plastic Box

There are soooo many things that you can use to customize your tinker tray.  Just, be sure to consider the child’s age as you choose materials to include in your tray.  Before you start gathering materials, you need a box to hold them.  I started with an inexpensive plastic container with adjustable compartments.  I found this one in the sporting goods aisle (fishing supplies) of my local big box store and it was very inexpensive.

Start with a plastic box with compartments for your tinker tray gift.

Add Supplies

Next, came the fun part!  I had sooo much fun hunting for fun materials to put in the little compartments.

Adding supplies to your tinker tray gift.

You can include items from your craft stash, desk drawer, junk drawer, recycling bin, craft store, hardware store, or Dollar Store.  Customize it to fit your kid(s) and your budget.  I found some of these items in my craft closet, but I also enjoy browsing the aisles of the craft store.

Here are the supplies that I put in my tinker tray.

I really enjoyed finding a home for all of the supplies in the box.  Can you believe that I fit all of that in there?  I can’t wait to see what my son creates…..and I’m already thinking about what I am going to put in my next tray.

A filled tinker tray DIY gift.

Fill your own box and you can easily wrap it up for a unique gift.  I think that this portable tray will be a great item to pack along on a trip to Grandpa and Grandma’s house.  It will also be perfect to pull out on a rainy day.

A completed DIY tinker tray gift.

Tinker Tray in the Classroom

As I mentioned before, you could easily put together a tinker tray to use in your classroom.  Again, you will need to use materials that are appropriate for the age and developmental level of your kids.  Additional items that you could use/add include:

  • packing peanuts
  • cardboard tubes
  • misc. stickers
  • washi tape
  • mesh bags (from onions, etc)
  • coffee filters
  • photographs
  • hole punches
  • pieces of packing foam
  • pieces of bubble wrap
  • craft sticks
  • wood shapes
  • fabric or felt scraps
  • paper scraps
  • adhesive backed magnets
  • Velcro dots
  • bottle caps
  • buttons

I hope that you enjoy putting together a tinker tray.  I would love to hear about the materials that you included.  Please share in the comments below.

Are you looking for additional ways to provide opportunities for open-ended creativity?  I think that you will like the following resources in my store.