Put a sensory spin on preschool writing and drawing activities with a simple, homemade salt tray.
Wow! 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.
Not only can the kids use a salt tray to learn and practice letter and number formation, they can doodle and draw on it as well. And anytime they want to start over, they can just give the tray a shake, and 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 showed her how we could “erase” her name with a gentle shake of the tray. Fascinating!
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 does not 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 one does, hands can be used to clear the tray as well. 😉
If you enjoyed our salt tray writing activity, you’ll also like:
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