What’s a mama to do to entice her preschooler to practice pre-writing? We’re not big fans of worksheets at our house. Learning sticks more when it’s immersive and hands-on! In fact, we’ve got a super-relaxed method of doing homeschool preschool you can steal! Still, it’s absolutely essential that we teach fine motor skills and pre-writing practice with our preschoolers right?

Looking for more toddler and preschooler ideas? Try this fun process art project for kids!

Maybe you’ve seen a cute salt writing tray on Pinterest, or drooled over a Montessori-inspired wooden tray on Amazon.

Why not make your own sand or salt writing tray for those early learning activities? It’s so easy, and you probably have everything you need right in your kitchen.

Related Reading: 1o Crazy Simple Fine Motor Activities for Toddlers


  • Tupperware container (bonus points if it has a divider!)
  • Acrylic paint and paintbrush
  • Salt
  • Food coloring

Make your own DIY Salt Writing Tray:

Got your materials together? This will be quick and easy, I promise 🙂

First, use your acrylic paint to cover the bottom of the plastic container. Make sure you paint a thin coat. If the paint is too thick it will take foreeeever to dry. Plus, it has a tendency to peel more quickly with wear and tear.

While your paint is drying, place about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of regular table salt in a plastic bag. Add a few drops of food coloring, and seal the bag tight. Squish the salt around in the bag until the color is evenly mixed throughout the salt. Keep the plastic bag open for a while as the salt dries.

That’s it! You’ve got a beautiful colored salt tray ready for all sorts of hands-on preschool activities. When you’re not using your salt tray, just pop the lid on your Tupperware dish for easy storage!

We like to prop up flash cards in a bit of play doh in the other small section of the plastic container. This flash card set from PlaySkool includes alphabet, numbers, colors and shapes, and first words. Or, try these super cute Dr. Seuss flash cards! When we are practicing letters, I have my child trace the letter on the flash card first, then trace the letter in the salt with his finger. This sensory input helps my little guy remember the shape of the letter more easily!

If you love this DIY salt tray, I know you’ll love my Early Learning Bible Curriculum packs! Each pack helps you focus on one “big idea” with your toddler or preschooler for an entire month, and I’ve done all the activity planning and prep work for you! Want to get a head start with hands-on early learning plans? Check out the curriculum pack collection!

What about you? Do you have big plans for using your salt tray with your little one? Have any other favorite pre-writing activities? Share with us in the comments!