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15 Marvellous Muffin Tray Activities for the Classroom

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Photo of Holly (Teach Starter)
Updated | 6 min read

Muffin tray activities for the classroom! Who would have thought the humble muffin tray could be used for so many different learning opportunities. We’ve popped on our chef’s hat and baked up some delightful ideas! From mathematics to phonics to coding – you’ll quickly realise this baking utensil can easily become a staple in your hands-on collection of goodies.

You won’t be able to top these muffin tray activities for the classroom…

“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” – Albert Einstein

20 Ways to Use a Muffin Tray for Learning

Now, I know what you’re thinking – they look super cute, but… it also looks like A LOT of prep work! And, while it may take a little bit of time setting these activities up, you can very easily use them time and time again by incorporating a secret ingredient… the humble patty cake wrapper.

Keep these activities all in one location so they can be used time and time again!

Muffin tray activities for the classroom

(1) Letter and Sound Ping Pong Fun

This activity just makes me smile! The enjoyment factor is next level with this one…


We have used our Phonics Word Builder Tiles and focused on single letter sounds, but this could be adapted to suit your students and the needs of your class. You can set this up on the floor against a wall and have students either try to underarm throw a ping pong ball or bounce the ping pong ball to have it land in one of the segments in the muffin tray.

The students can then name the letter, provide the phoneme, and come up with a word that starts with that sound before they have another go!

(2) Coding and Phonics All in One

Teaching coding to little learners doesn’t need to break the bank, you just need to get a little creative! For this activity, we used our Digraph Coding Robot Mat (first page) and cut out some of the cute images on the mat. The beauty of this resource is that you can also use the digraph flashcards that are included in the download. We also printed our Coding Robot Direction Cards to add another layer of coding goodness!

The aim of this activity is for students to pick a digraph card, find the image in the muffin tray that features that digraph. Then, they need to use the Coding Direction Cards to map out a pathway for a little figure (we used a cute teddy bear) to get from the ‘start here’ segment to the image that features the chosen digraph!

Hands on coding activity for kids using a muffin tray

(3) CVC Word Building Activity

Teaching little learners to blend single sounds is crucial in the early years classroom. Coming up with fun, hands-on opportunities to experiment with different CVC words can be time-consuming. Why not create a CVC muffin tray activity for small group work during literacy rotations? For this activity, we used the images and letters from our CVC Word Building Activity.

The aim of this activity is for students to pick an image and place it in the first segment of the muffin tray, they then need to find the letters to spell that CVC word. A muffin tray works perfectly well as there are four segments across!

Hands-on CVC activity for kids.

(4) Digraph Matching Activity

In this activity, students are consolidating their knowledge of digraphs! Best of all, you can easily differentiate this activity to suit your students’ needs by including or excluding particular digraphs! We used our Phonics Word Builder Tiles for the colourful background and different digraphs. Students simply match the digraph to an image of an object that includes that particular digraph!

To add an element of difficulty, get students to time how quickly they can match the images up with the digraph pattycakes!

Hot tip: Have a perfectly sized circle template you can use again and again. This will make it easier to cut out the right size circle every time to fit the bottom of the pattycakes!

Hands-on digraph activity using a muffin tray.

(5) Sight Word Partner Game

Another great activity that can be differentiated to suit the needs of your students. This is great played in pairs! Each partner will need some buttons or counters that are the same colour.

The aim of the game is to fill a whole line horizontally or vertically (a bit like Connect4). Students need to pick where they want to place their button and read the word that is in that segment. If they get it correct, they can then place their button there. Play continues until one player is able to fill a whole line horizontally or vertically.

(4) Simple Addition and Number Recognition

Grab two dice and turn this activity into a quick mental addition activity as well as a number recognition task!

Students need to roll the dice, add up the numbers, then find the total in the patty cakes. We used a variety of numerals, words and dots to add an element of number recognition to this activity.

(5) Money Counting Activity

Counting and ordering small collections of coins and notes and representing money values in multiple ways comes in rather early in the curriculum. Providing your students with many ways to consolidate their knowledge of money is crucial, and of course, we have a muffin tray activity just for that!

Write different money amounts on the patty cakes and provide your students with a collection of money (we used play money). Your students then need to count out the correct amounts and place each collection of money in the pattycakes.


(8) Counting Fun

Another super simple concept that will have your students counting to 20!

We used rocks for this activity, but you can use anything you have lying around that are small enough to fit in each of the muffin tray segments. Simply write the numbers you want your students to practise and then get them to read the number and then place that many rocks in that segment.

(9) Fine Motor and Sorting Activity

In this fine motor activity, students are encouraged to use the tongs to pick up a pompom and place it in a segment of this cute bunny tray. This tray has smaller sections, so students need to be very precise when they drop the pompom into each of the little segments.

Why not have students sort the pompoms into colours as well?

Other Muffin Tray Activities for Learning Fun

(10) Science activity! Have you ever done an experiment with your class to see what melts when you put it in the sun? Why not keep that mess contained by placing the different items into each section of the muffin tray!

(11) Paint Palette. Use the trusty muffin tray during art and craft in the classroom to keep the paint all contained.

(12) Organisation! Use a muffin tray to sort all of those little crafty items such as googly eyes, buttons, and beads! Pop some paper cups into each segment if you have larger items to organise.

(13) Show arrays. Use pompoms in each segment of the muffin tray to demonstrate an array when provided with a simple multiplication sum.

(14) Mini garden beds! By drilling a hole into the bottom of each segment you and your class can try and grow some little seedlings. By planting little seeds you can talk about biological science and explore how living things grow and change.

(15) Syllable fun! Place images of different items in each segment and get students to work out how many syllables in each word and place the correct number of pompoms in each section.

We’d love to hear your ideas. Share in the comments section of this blog.


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