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10 Salt Trays for Fun Writing Practice

If you’ve been hanging around our blog for any length of time, you have probably heard me talk about multisensory learning and how important it is. When kids learn with all their senses, they are far more likely to remember what they learn.

closeup of child writing a letter in a salt tray

Well, if you’ve never tried using salt trays as a sensory writing exercise for your children, this blog post is for you!

Children of all ages and abilities can benefit from this great kinesthetic activity. Watch the video below to see how easy it is to make your own salt tray!

Salt trays are perfect for practicing these skills:

child practicing sight words with a salt tray

How to Create Your Own Salt Tray

It’s really easy to create a salt tray for your child.

  1. Select a recipe from our download below.
  2. Mix salt, color, and fragrance to create a colorful, scented salt mixture.
  3. Spread the salt mixture in a shallow pan.
  4. Start writing!

Download this free printable to get complete instructions, fun variations, and a full set of uppercase and lowercase alphabet cards.

10 Scented Salt Trays

Our download includes ten fragrant recipes that will increase the sensory impact of your salt trays. Download Make Your Own Salt Tray now and pick your favorite!

  1. Lavender Salt Tray – purple salt and the calming aroma of lavender
  2. Creamsicle Salt Tray – orange salt with the citrusy scent of summer
  3. Candy Cane Salt Tray – red salt with the festive aroma of the holidays
  4. Lemonade Salt Tray – yellow salt with a fresh lemony scent
  5. Pumpkin Spice Salt Tray – orange salt and the scent of autumn
  6. Chocolate Salt Tray – brown salt with the sweet smell of chocolate
  7. Almond Joy Salt Tray – brown salt and a hint of almond and coconut
  8. Strawberry Banana Salt Tray – red salt and the aroma of a fruit smoothie
  9. Root Beer Float Salt Tray – brown salt and a whiff of root beer and ice cream (minus the glass!)
  10. Sugar Cookie Salt Tray – beige salt with the smell of a fresh-baked cookie
Young child writing in a salt tray

Tips for Using Your Salt Tray

  • You can use a baking dish, jelly roll pan, or cafeteria tray to create your salt tray.
  • Having a colored backdrop helps the letters show up better. If your tray isn’t colored, you can tape colored paper in the bottom of the tray for contrast.
letter M and a colored background in a salt tray
  • Put the tray on a towel or tablecloth for easy clean-up.
  • Add a thin layer of salt to the tray. If you use too much salt, it is hard to see the letters.
  • For young children who are just learning the alphabet, place the letter card next to the tray for the child’s reference.
the letter E written in a salt tray
  • Use the pointer finger of the dominant hand to “write” in the salt.
  • Shake the pan gently to “erase” the writing.
child shaking salt tray to erase

More Sensory Tray Ideas

Here are a few more materials you can add to a tray or pan. Food coloring or scents can be added to these materials as well, or they can just be left plain.

  • Sand
  • Flour
  • Shaving Cream
  • Cornmeal

Have you used a salt tray or another sensory writing activity with your child? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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Photo credit: Elaine from Humble Dwelling

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Sam B

says:

Love this idea!

Lynsey

says:

Love this! So much more fun and engaging than paper and a pencil. The colour/scent ideas are fabulous!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad you like these, Lynsey! Writing in salt trays, especially colorful and aromatic ones, is definitely so much more fun than writing on paper.

Amber

says:

I have been researching fun hands-on ways to spice up my son’s letter formation. This is perfect! I love all the recipes and it will definitely access all his senses!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad you like these ideas, Amber!

Melanie Lyons

says:

This is amazing, I can’t wait to try this.

Carolina Stander

says:

Oh wow! Thanks for this. My eldest son is now 6 and learning to read. Will definitely make him one of these trays!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Carolina! I hope your son has lots of fun with these.

Amy Foss

says:

I’ve used salt trays with my son and in my kinder and 1st grade classrooms. The kids love them!!! Poor things, I never colored or scented my salt!! But I usually had a bright colored plastic plate or tray underneath.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amy,
I think the color or scent is just a nice change-up. I think the salt itself is what is so great, and using it with a brightly colored background is great too.

Crystal

says:

Thanks for sharing ideas for color and scent- we will definitely try this during this month!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great, Chrystal! I hope you have lots of fun with it.

Svetlana

says:

Love this idea. I have a very hands on child and this will be very helpful.

Becca

says:

Scented trays is such an excellent idea! I’ll definitely be trying this for the holidays. I love how you incorporate the different senses in learning.

Babette

says:

i have a child with ADHD will he be able to learn from the program

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Babette,
Yes, All About Reading and All About Spelling work wonderfully well with ADHD students!

All About Reading and All About Spelling are multisensory programs that approach learning through sight, sound, and touch, and are scripted for one-on-one instruction. They require just short lessons daily and are easy to do at home without special training or previous experience. The programs are mastery-based rather than grade-level based, so you can choose the levels that fit your student’s needs and customize the review and pace.

Please let me know if you need information about placement or have any questions.

Alinda long

says:

I love this idea! We haven’t used a salt tray in a while. Never Thought to color it. We have colored rice also. Deff gon a try this with our sight words tomorrow.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m happy this gave you some ideas to try, Alinda!

Missy H

says:

My kids love this and even as they get older, it’s a great way to practice spelling words in a way that’s not so mundane! Having lots of variety keeps things fun for sure.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Missy,
Thank you for sharing that salt trays are motivating and helpful even for older students!

Cat

says:

My son loved doing this! I made a mini version in a pencil box that makes it easy to store. Glad we get suggestions like this from AAS!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Oooo, I love the idea of a mini salt tray for quick use, Cat!

Kristin jones

says:

What a neat idea to keep kids interested while helping them learn

Sharon

says:

We loved using salt trays! So fun – tactile, visual and even sound with this method of teaching the writing and sounds of letters for phonics. Even the movement part of sensory is folded in – it’s a win for everyone! Colored sand makes it especially fun – changing it up now and then keeps it interesting.

Sarah Aldrich

says:

I love that you have ideas for scented salt trays! I’ve never thought of that!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Glad you like this, Sarah! I love the idea of holiday-scented trays.

Priscilla

says:

Great and fun ideas to teach our little ones to love learning in a creative out of the box way.

Kate

says:

My son loves this! We use colored sand from a craft store. It’s definitely the favorite way to practice letters

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love the idea of using colored craft sand, Kate!

Brittney

says:

This is a great way to get my son to do his letters!

katie

says:

this is such a fun activity, we have also used rice instead of salt.

Jennifer Felton

says:

My 5 year old uses a salt tray to practice writing her letters, all the older kids end up with their fingers in the salt too. This is great all the way around!

Lisa Wernich

says:

An affordable replacement to pages upon pages and more fun too.

Toni King

says:

Salt trays really helped my littles with their beginning letters to read and write. I let them both pick a color sand and it made learning fun and is especially good to take outside!

Renee

says:

Looks like fun probably messy though lol.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It can be a bit messy, Renee, but that is why we recommend salt trays instead of sand trays. A wet cloth makes salt clean up easier than sand clean up!

Tiffaney M Grimes

says:

I love salt trays. They may end up messy with my youngest but they are far more engaging to both of my girls than any pen and paper activity out there!

Jennifer Engstrom

says:

We used kinetic sand to try this method—definitely more fun than pencil and paper!

Emma

says:

Great activity! My son enjoys doing letters on salt trays, in our home more like sand tray.

Jessica

says:

I love these recipes so much! We’ve made the lemonade scented one and the lavender. I store them in gallon ziplocks, and add some more essential oil whenever it loses its oomph. With Thanksgiving and Christmas approaching, I think I’ll make the pumpkin and candy cane ones next. Thanks for sharing these ideas!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love the idea of storing the salt in ziplocks to make reuse easy, Jessica! Thank you for sharing it.

Heidi Clark

says:

Definitely should not use cornmeal bc it is raw and could cause bacterial infection. (Warning on package!)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for the tip, Heidi!

Elle

says:

I’m always on the lookout for kinesthetic learning activities for my struggling reader. I’ve tried flour and shaving cream, both of which were so messy my son quickly got fed up! Also tried kinesthetic sand but that was too difficult. I will give one of your salt recipes a go, though.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I hope the Salt Trays works well for your child, Elle. You may find our 19 Activities for Kinesthetic Learning blog post helpful as well.

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