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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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Leave a Comment

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!

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.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

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

Maria

says:

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

Shannon

says:

I love the idea of adding color and scents to the salt tray.

Katie

says:

My daughter loves using the salt trays to practice her sounds. I surprised her by turning the salt yellow. Now she wants them in every color!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Katie,
A rainbow of salt sounds like a lot of fun! :D

Jen Ambrose

says:

Thank you for providing the idea, different kinds of salts to make, and the download for the alphabet cards. I appreciate these tools!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Jen. I hope you and your student have a lot of fun with salt trays!

Amanda

says:

Excited to try this with my little one!

Jayne

says:

This is a fun way to introduce letters and writing to my little one! It’s important that they enjoy and look forward to their lessons. Thank you for the idea!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Jayne.

We have a number of other letter learning activities, many with free downloads, as well.

Jessica

says:

We love using this idea for spelling.

Alisha M.

says:

These are some great ideas! I love the idea of adding a scent. I need to try this to help my daughter with her handwriting. 👍🏻

Azeem Isaahaque

says:

The sand tray is such a brilliant idea for learning

Eve Margolis

says:

I’ve been looking for sand for my trays, this is so much more fun! I love using salt, it’s cheap and easy to find. I like the sense too.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Eve,
One of our commenters also pointed out that salt cleans up easier than sand. With salt, all you have to do is wipe with a wet cloth and any residue just dissolves away.

Leanne Irvine

says:

We did this with salt and white bowls. My kids are 7 and 8 so I wasn’t sure it would be fun but they enjoyed it because it was different.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Leanne,
Thank you for letting us know your somewhat older children enjoyed writing in salt.

Sara english

says:

This sounds awesome. Can’t wait to try it with out all about reading program.

Raquel

says:

I never thought of adding color to them! Thank you for all the ideas!

Jamie

says:

My son loves the ‘magic’ sand so he will love this idea.
And I love the idea of the different smells-like candy cane! So fun!

Amelia

says:

We made our salt tray with pink food coloring and lavender. It’s wonderful because the lavender is calming so when we get frustrated we can smell the calming smell. Its also a big hit with the kids they love doing their words in the salt.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amelia,
Thank you for letting us know how this activity was enjoyed with your kids! I do think the lavender would be especially lovely for this activity.

Ramona Melinte

says:

Hello, I have 4 homeschool girls…now I discovered this amazing packet…we want to win.

MaryAnn Rosberg

says:

So, creative and multi sensory. Bravo.

Hollie

says:

I love this idea! Can’t wait to try the peppermint recipe for Christmas!

Jamie

says:

Love the scent aspect about this! Will be trying next week.

Michele Harkins

says:

Thank you, Marie Ripple! I am amazed at the success we have with All About Spelling! We follow the process and great things happen. We now have tears of joy with spelling lessons, instead of tears of frustration.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Oh, Michele, we are so pleased to hear that there are no more tears of frustration!

Diane

says:

How fun! I might try this today

This is a great activity for the children. Not only do they enjoy doing it, but they are also learning while playing. Me and my girls favorite was the shaving cream. We would even add some food coloring to make different colors.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Teresa,
Shaving cream writing does seem really fun!

Sara Bodley

says:

My oldest loved helping make the salt tray. Thanks for the great idea

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sara,
It’s great that you got one of your students involved with making the salt tray as well!

Amy Dyson

says:

We love these!

Kim Barrios

says:

My son is going to love this!

Sara P.

says:

Fun idea! Can’t wait to try it with my youngest!

Lonnie Pena

says:

Love this idea with the scent.

Sharon

says:

Love the salt trays! I used one part red decorative sand from the Dollar Tree and one part salt to make it two toned.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sharon,
Your two-toned salt/sand tray sound pretty!

Rebecca Nielsen

says:

Thanks for all you do to make homeschooling a little easier and a lot more fun.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rebecca,
You are welcome!

Asala Willis

says:

Yes. We have used rice, salt, and ice on construction paper. Lots of fun even with older elementary kids.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Asala,
I haven’t heard of ice on construction paper, but I can imagine it would be great. Thank you for the idea.

Brittney kaluzny

says:

My Kids love doing spelling words and even math with this! Great idea!

ANA

says:

That’s really cool!

Meredith

says:

I used a cornmeal tray for my older son, but I had forgotten about that for my next speller. He’d love this!

Ashley

says:

We love salt trays for numbers! My daughter reverses alot of them but this always seems to help!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ashley,
Thank you for this idea!

Karen Knapp

says:

This looks like a great idea for my little ones!

Carmel

says:

What a fun thing to do! Thanks!

Jennell

says:

We’ve done salt trays before but not scented or colored. I will have to try this with my kids. I’m sure they will love it. Thanks for the “recipes”!

Anastacia

says:

This looks fun, especially with colored sand! I have also seen people use a piece of very fine sand paper to run your finger over.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Anastacia,
We have a blog post and download on how to make tactile sand letters for tracing! I think our method is much easier than cutting out letters from sand paper.

Michelle

says:

I LOVE this idea!

Bethany

says:

What great ideas! Thank you!

Sally Chancellor

says:

This looks fun, I should make time for it!

PW

says:

Wow, I never thought of adding a scent to a craft, cool idea.

Tabitha

says:

One of our favorite activities. If your child is prone to cuts and scrapes on his/her hands, a paintbrush or wooden spoon end also works. Had to modify for one daughter bc she always has a hangnail or something and the salt stings.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tabitha,
I didn’t think about salt on wounds! Poor thing. However, your paintbrush or wooden spoon idea is a great workaround. Thank you for sharing it. You could also do colored and scented sand, which shouldn’t cause a sting.

Rachel

says:

My son would love to do this!

Pam

says:

My sons loved practicing their letters and word in cornmeal. When they were done, I left them use their trucks. :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Pam,
That would be fun!

Julie

says:

I will try this tomorrow!

D.

says:

Way more fun than pencil writing!

Lyndsey Allender

says:

I’ve used this method for both of my kinesthetic boys. I highly recommend it!

Jill

says:

Love this idea!

Jessica

says:

Thanks for the recipies! I love the use of essential oils as I find these helpful for my child with ADHD. Can’t wait to try these instead of the flour abs shaving. Team we were using.

Dandi D

says:

This would be such a fun activity for both of my children!

Lizelda

says:

These are great ideas, can’t wait to try them.

Laureen Anderson

says:

I used this idea with my son, worked great! We used shaving cream with food coloring in a ziplock bag.

Stacy Price

says:

These are awesome! I can’t wait to try making a few!!

Hannah

says:

This is a great idea for my son who still struggling with writing his letters.

Kerri Wartnik

says:

I’m going to share this idea with friends. Wish I had known of it when my children were learning to read. Hmmm, wonder if it would work to memorize formulas for my daughter’s high school math classes… or science terms, history dates, etc. The colors and scents are ingenious!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kerri,
Oooo, I think you may be onto something. Writing out formulas and such does help greatly with memorization and I’ve seen research that suggests chewing a specific flavor of gum while studying then chewing the same flavor during the test boost test results. So, I would be very willing to try using scented salt trays to practice formulas, then have a bit of the same scented salt available during the test to refresh her memory. It’s worth a try! The research suggested a different scent for each subject, if you decided you wanted to try it for more than one subject.

Christy S

says:

I think this is a fun, creative, and inventive way to involve the senses to help students work on forming letters. It reminds me of my all time favorite childhood activity, one I rarely got to do because it was a mess; my mom would dump cornmeal all over our kitchen island and let me play in it for hours. We would draw pictures, write letters, words, and just have fun.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Christy,
That does sound like both fun and messy! Salt is definitely easier to clean up, as any residue can be wiped with a wet cloth and will dissolve away.

Linda

says:

Great printables and recipes! Will try the pumpkin salt tray this October for Halloween sight words.

Amy Butler

says:

My 6 year old would love to practice her Level 1 words this way!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Amy,
Yes! I think even older kids might find spelling review a bit more fun with a scented salt tray.

Kristin

says:

I have done this with my daughter but I LOVE the idea of colored salt and even with scents! Great idea! Thanks!!

Paula

says:

Salt writing is always a good idea.

Ccope

says:

I’ve always used salt trays for beginning writers! I like the color and scent ideas- I’ll be enhancing my salt tray this week. I use a clear shallow plastic storage container with a locking lid over my navy table cloth. Another hint: For teaching letter formation I write the letters shake the tray gently and let them trace the remaining imprint.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love your ideas of writing the letter and shaking gently but leaving an imprint for the child to trace! Thank you for sharing this adaptation.

Krista

says:

I have used a salt tray but never scented or colored! I can’t wait to try this!

Stacy

says:

I haven’t used salt before but, I will be now. We used baking soda. It has a cool feel. I also learned from reading this to put a piece of colored paper at the bottom. Thank you.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Stacy,
I haven’t used baking soda before, I know what you mean about its feel. It would be a nice change-up.

Christa

says:

Thank you for all these great ideas! We’ll be picking up some salt on the next trip to town! :)

Anne Devermann

says:

Thanks, I just started using shaving cream and love it but salt would be less clean up and add some variety. Love to use this format for introducing formation of new letters; so much better than standing at a chalk or white board.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Anne,
We’re happy to give you an idea that will add some variety! Have fun.

adria

says:

Thank you for all the ideas. I do have salt trays I use with the children but it’s nice to have a variation.

Yessenia

says:

This is great! My daughter is going to love it. Can’t wait to try! Thanks!!!

Christina

says:

Super idea!

Christina

says:

Great ideas!

Tina

says:

I love these fun salt trays- lavender scented is my favorite! Great post

Missy

says:

We have always loved shaving cream for practice!

Tracy

says:

I used salt trays with my daughter in middle and high school. I like the salt better than the sand, as it can be wiped up with a wet rag and it disappears without leaving anything to scratch the table top or the floor. Wish I’d known about the colors and scents though!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Tracy,
Great point about clean up! I did sand writing with my kids when they were little since as desert dwellers we have an abundance of sand. However, clean up was a bit of a pain.

Emily W

says:

We’ll have to try this! I’m sure my children would love it.

Julisa

says:

I’ve got a couple of boys that I need to try this with. Plenty of lemons in our tree so I think we’ll do lemon salt.

gina

says:

I miss doing these with my kids! They loved it!

Debbie

says:

This is one program that I consistently use!!! We learn so much!

Nikki

says:

Great ideas!!

Leah

says:

We drew letters in chalk on a chalk board and let our daughter “paint” them off with water. Fun and easy clean up.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

What a great idea, Leah! It would be great practice, especially for children that are at the very beginning of learning letters. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Alicia Butler

says:

Looks like something my 3 school aged kidlets would enjoy!

Melonie

says:

Looks like fun! I may try with my daughter who has sensory issues.

Julie

says:

My daughter would love this

Chanelle

says:

This is such a neat idea!

Jen

says:

Love all the great ideas.

Samantha

says:

Adding smell to the salt try is a awesome idea!

Robyn Jamison

says:

Neat.

Traci McCain

says:

Love this idea!

Selena McCroskey

says:

My kids always loved the sand trays we used.

Naomi

says:

My son loves salt trays! They have really helped to move those fine motor skills along and he enjoys drawing in them too!

Sharon Manley

says:

Would LOVE to win AAS 2…as a grandmother with custody of her 2 grandsons and homeschooling them..money is VERY tight… this would be a wonderful blessing

Katie

says:

My daughter liked this when she was little

Louise Journagan

says:

What a great idea!!

Bethan

says:

I love the idea of scented salt trays! We love scented play doh so this is an idea we will be trying!

Rachel

says:

Looks like a great way to teach the basics of writing letters

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rachel,
Yes, and it is an especially good way for young children that may not be up to writing much because of little hands that get tired quickly. The salt tray is much easier for practice.

Mary Beth

says:

I would love to having all about spelling!!!

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