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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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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.

Donna

says:

Great ideas.

Chantal

says:

My students love my sand trays, shaving cream on cookie pans as well as my dyed rice trays and tiny bead trays. I let them choose what they want to use at each lesson. Some also love poking a straw into flattened playdough to write the letters, or using playdough to form a letter in a rope shape.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Such great ideas, Chantal! Thank you for sharing them.

C. Thati Talcott

says:

I’m set I g with the Peace Corps in Botswana some have plenty of sand!!!

Davina Evans

says:

Could u also use decorative sand?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, Davina, I think decorative sand would be perfect!

Royelle Mickelson

says:

I have a whole bucket of cornmeal I bought when I thought my family would enjoy corn bread. This will be a great way to use it up. I also appreciate the ideas on creating a colored background as seeing the letter against the cornmeal might be difficult.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Royelle,
I haven’t heard of using cornmeal, but I am sure it will work! What a great way to use up something that isn’t getting used in your pantry.

Rhonda

says:

I’m so excited to try this with my daughter, I can hardly stand it! Thanks for the download!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Rhonda. I hope you and your daughter have lots and lots of fun with the salt trays!

Faith

says:

I’ve heard of using a salt tray for writing practice before, but these are some great tips to improve the experience.

Carol

says:

I love this! Kids would love the different colors. Thank you so much!

Julie Worden

says:

My kid (who hates to write) loves doing work in his salt tray! I’ve never thought of coloring it – thanks for the tip!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Julie,
You’re welcome for the tip, and thank you for letting us know that your our kid that doesn’t like writing loves salt tray work! It’s a creative but effective way to get writing practice in.

Andrea

says:

What a great idea. I’ll have to try it!

Melissa

says:

We’ve used AAS for a couple of years now. The multi sensory approach works so well with my kiddo! The salt tray ideas will just add another option to our lessons.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Melissa,
It’s great to hear that All About Spelling’s approach is working so well for your family! Enjoy the salt trays.

Abigail Kruger

says:

Nice idea :)

Kristen

says:

These are great ideas!

Amanda

says:

My son would love this!

Lindsey

says:

I love the idea of scented sand. My kids will love this.

B

says:

Would this idea work with children with Autism and or Sensory Processing Disorder?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Very likely, yes. Children with autism and sensory processing disorder often do especially well with hands-on and multisensory learning. However, some might not like the feel of the salt. If that is the case, you could try writing in shaving cream or something soft.

You might find our article Teaching Reading and Spelling to Autistic Children helpful as well.

Rebecca Spaulding

says:

Thank you for always posting new and creative ideas!!!

stacey

says:

Love this idea, it works great for my youngest

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Stacey,
Thanks for letting us know that salt trays work great for your child!

Amanda

says:

Love these ideas for my boy with sensory needs!

Jessica

says:

I love this idea, especially for my wiggly little boy! He loves getting to do stuff like this. I really like the different recipes to keep this activity fun and exciting! Can’t wait to try it out!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jessica,
We hope your wiggly little boy enjoys these salt tray recipes and practicing his writing in them!

Cindy Allen

says:

I know they work, I used multisensory writing for my daughter years ago. I love using them with my 2nd grade class, but I hadn’t thought of the oils!! Thank you for all the wonder ideas.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Cindy,
You are welcome. Salt or sand trays have been around for a long time we know, but many have still not tried this great kinesthetic activity.

Jackie Rose

says:

We used salt trays for letters, love the idea of using them for word practice, too!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jackie,
Using a salt tray would make reviewing spelling words a lot more fun!

Casey A

says:

My 3 yo will love this! What a great way for him to learn his letters. Thank you!

Jaci Cathcart

says:

How fun!!

Rachel

says:

I love this idea! Thanks for all the tips to keep learning exciting!

Mia K

says:

Thanks for the ideas. I think I am going to do this with my littles and have my oldest practice his spelling at the same time!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Mia,
Yes! It’s great to have an activity like this that works equally great with older and younger students.

Susan Gregory

says:

In our house, we do “sugar letters”–instead of using salt in our pan, we use sugar. I let the kids lick their finger and then write the letter. We use it for practicing cursive formation as well (which is great brain therapy in and of itself!) They will practice over and over and OVER when I suggest we try it with sugar letters! It works especially well with difficult letters or concepts… Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Susan,
What a wonderful way to motivate your students to keep practicing and practicing! Thanks for sharing this idea.

Leelannee Godfrey

says:

This is a great idea…Using sugar instead of salt. I’m sure the kids really love it! I’ll have to try it.

Maria

says:

this looks like fun! can’t wait to try the colored salt tray!

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