A salt tray writing activity is a great way to teach a preschooler how to print and how to spell his or her name. It adds a sensory element that makes learning number and letter formation extra fun!
“She climbed up to the table, eager to see what this new activity was all about. Without saying a word, I simply wrote her name in the salt with the end of the paintbrush.
Her face lit up as she read her name out loud. Then, I shook the tray gently and she watched, fascinated, as the letters of her name disappeared.”
I don’t know why I ever waited this long to set up a salt tray writing activity for the hooligans! It was so easy to make, and such a hit! I made our salt tray in less than a minute, but it’s going to provide hours of fun and learning for the preschoolers.
Why a salt tray?
Kids love sensory activities, ; activities that appeal to their sense of touch, sight, sound… And studies have proven that our capability to learn and retain information increases when multiple senses are engaged.
A sensory tray does just that. The salt looks and feels interesting, and makes such a wonderful sound as your child scrapes through it with a paintbrush or a finger.
What better way for your child to learn and practice letter and number formation or when learning how to write his or her name? Your child can also doodle and draw on a salt tray, and anytime they want to start over, they just give the tray a shake. Voila… a smooth, clean surface of salt to write in again.
This wasn’t our first time using salt for a letter-learning activity, but was our first time using an actual salt tray. It was a such a lovely experience! Seeing our drawings appear in the salt, and listening to the soft, scratchy sound it made was relaxing and therapeutic.
This little hooligan played with our salt tray off and on all afternoon. It’s definitely an activity that we’ll turn to again and again.
Let me show you how much fun she had.
For our salt tray writing activity, you’ll need:
- a tray -a baking sheet, serving tray, styrofoam produce tray etc.
- an instrument for writing – end of a pencil or paintbrush, a chopstick or craft stick etc.
For our tray, we started with a small styrofoam produce tray from the grocery store. Note: always run your styrofoam trays through the dishwasher before using them for crafts and activities. This will ensure they are sterilized.
To contain any possible spills, I set the produce tray on top of a baking sheet, and I presented it to my hooligan along with a paintbrush.
She climbed up to the table, eager to see what this new activity was all about. Without saying a word, I simply wrote her name in the salt with the end of the paintbrush.
Her face lit up as she read her name out loud. Then, I shook the tray gently and she watched, fascinated, as the letters of her name disappeared.
She spent a good 15 minutes or so making designs and letters in the tray, and then she asked if we could add some colour to the salt tray. This was likely because earlier in the day, we’d been dripping food colouring onto a tray of baking soda for this fizzing colour experiment.
The food colouring from that experiment was still sitting on the kitchen counter, so I grabbed the blue and the red, and dripped them all over our salt tray.
We tried using the ends of our paintbrushes to mash the colour into the salt, but that was a slow process, so I suggested that my hooligan just use her hands to mix it all up.
She LOVES getting her hands messy so she jumped at that invitation. She pressed her hands into the salt and she squished and squeezed and mixed until the colours were blended well into the salt.
Then, so she would have a larger surface for drawing and writing on, we dumped the salt from the styrofoam tray onto the big baking sheet.
Our larger tray required a little more salt, so she added some, and stirred it all in to the coloured salt.
A salt tray doesn’t require much salt. A thin layer spread over your tray is enough. A dark tray works best because you’ll really be able to see the letters that you write. Deborah from Teach Preschool often puts coloured construction paper at the bottom of her salt trays to add interest. You can see Deborah’s colourful salt trays here.
The large surface of the baking sheet was great for drawing big pictures on and it provided lots of room for letter practice.
Your child can practice writing her name or any other letters she knows. Another thing you could do (we did it, but I didn’t take pictures), is YOU can print several letters or numbers in the top half of the tray and have your child copy them on the bottom half.
And of course, your salt tray activity can simply be used for making art.
Once your picture or writing is finished, just give the tray a shake to “erase” your work and start again.
Or, if your child loves a good sensory experience like this little one does, hands can be used to clear the tray as well. 😉
Another wonderful way for your child to learn the fundamentals of writing, as well as reading, art and math is with my affiliate partner ABCMouse.com. ABC Mouse features hundreds of fun and interactive games, each designed to teach a specific educational concept. This fabulous, full online curriculum is designed for kids ages 2 to 7.
Click the image above for a FREE 30 day trial!
If you enjoyed our salt tray writing activity, you’ll also like:
Get the 3-5 Playful Preschool e-Book!
25+preschool activities by 25 bloggers, 10 printables, 50 links to activities not featured in the book all for $8.99!