DIY Montessori Tracing Trays

DIY Montessori Tracing Trays

DIY Tracing Trays, Montessori 3-Part Cards, and literacy puzzles promote hands-on learning and allow children to engage in kinesthetic learning by doing.

Have you ever thought about how to make learning enchanting? How to kindle the enthusiasm? How to spark the interest and sustain the attention of your little one? The added sensory input of feeling rice, salt, or other filler helps the brain to ENCODE (that is to put to MEMORY) the way in which we write alphabet and shapes. Most importantly, DIY Sensory tracing trays, puzzles, Montessori 3-part cards, and literacy language puzzles allow little people to engage in ‘Experiential Learning’ by doing.

He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence… [However,] never give to the mind more than you give to the hand!

Dr. Montessori

DIY Montessori Tracing Trays activities are part of 40+ PAGE HANDS-ON PLAY-BASED St. PATRICK’s ACTIVITY PACK!

DYED RICE DIY Montessori Tracing Trays

DIY Montessori Tracing Trays

  • dyed rice (shades of green)
  • dyed rainbow rice
  • polenta (small yellow grain)

You can also use flour, salt, sugar, or any other small grain. If you wish not to use pantry items, try sand, dirt, or glitter.



You can either pour your tracing filler into the tray, or you can make it interesting by adding paper for a color pop. Here, I placed white cardstock under a clear tray. (You can also choose a complimentary color paper, like red or orange for added contrast.)

Follow the recipe for RAINBOW DYED RICE below to make shades of green rice.



Here, since the tray is wooden and NOT clear, I placed paper INSIDE the tray. To contrast the rainbow rice, I used white cardstock. However, you can skip the paper layer and offer to trace on a wooden tray. Follow the recipe below to make DYED RICE.




Here, I am using polenta (you can also use millet, teff, or quinoa ~ any fine grain will do) and red cardstock to give it a color pop.

DIY Montessori Tracing Trays activities are part of 46-PAGE HANDS-ON PLAY-BASED St. PATRICK’s ACTIVITY PACK!


  • To laminate, you can use an IRON instead of a laminating machine. (I am using these thermal laminating pouches.) HOW: set your iron at a low temperature, as if you would iron silk. To be safe, place cardstock OVER the laminating sheet and iron over it. (See HERE how I used an IRON to make a flower bookmark.)
  • Alternatively, you can use sheet protectors and insert your page into it and use dry-erase markers. 
  • Corners can be pointy, so I love using a corner rounder.
  • For a quicker and more precise straight cutting, I am using a paper trimmer instead of scissors.
  • Buy rainbow dot markers HERE Or buy similar on Amazon HERE.

More Fun Ideas to Use Montessori Tracing Trays

Tracing C Colored Dyed Salt Writing Tracing Sensory Trays Montessori lIteracy
Tracing C Colored Dyed Salt Writing Tracing Sensory Trays Montessori lIteracy

Check out HERE Dyed Salt Recipe and the 1st Phonetical Set Tracing.


Before your child learns to hold a pencil for the first time, s/he needs sufficient fine motor control and hand strength to be able to attempt the pre-writing strokes. So, we need to prepare the hand to hold a pen or a pencil WAY BEFORE your child is able to write! The best way to do it, is through simple and engaging invitations to play and various sensory hands-on Montessori pre-writing activities.


If you think of it, letters and numbers are made out of lines and curves. And, the VERY FIRST LINE your little one will master is a vertical line, followed by curves in a circle, and finally by a / slanted line.

Staring at about 18 months, a child starts controlled scribbling. Toddlers may make repeated marks on the page— like open circles, diagonal, curved, horizontal, or vertical lines. Over time, children make the transition to holding the crayon or marker between their thumb and pointer finger. THIS IS WHEN YOU CAN ENCOURAGE to follow lines/strokes on a Montessori Tracing tray!

Also, with this DIY, your little one is learning LEFT TO RIGHT progression which is a VERY valuable skill that sometimes goes unnoticed since it is so natural to us, adults. However it is NOT intuitive to little people and a lot has to happen in their brain to move objects with hands, as well as eyes from the left the right. We want to PRACTICE this skill because this is how we read and write.

SALT DIY Montessori Tracing Trays

Montessori 3-Part Cards and Literacy Puzzles

Tracing trays, 3-Part Montessori cards, and literacy puzzles allow children to absorb information through tactile senses. The added sensory input helps the brain to encode (put to memory) letter recognition, proper letter formation, and the way shapes are formed.

Here is a FUN variation of a Montessori Tracing Tray. HOW: Layer colorful paper on the bottom of the tray. (Alternatively, place a clear tray OVER the paper so that your filler does not get stuck in between papers.) Pour your sensory filler. I used salt as a TASTE-SAFE option. You can also use sugar or baked flour.

Please note, FLOUR is considered RAW until cooked, and like all raw grain, corn starch, egg cartons, etc., it might contain E-coli, Salmonella, or other bacteria. So, to make it TASTE-SAFE, spread flour on an oven-safe tray and bake it on low 100 C or 300 degrees F for 15 minutes. Let it cool completely before using.

DIY RAINBOW Salt Tracing Tray

DIY Salt Rainbow-PaperMontessori Tracing Tray

Experiential Learning

Sensory tracing trays, literacy puzzles, Montessori 3-part cards, language objects, etc., allow little people to engage in kinesthetic learning by doing! ‘Hands-on learning’ is the common name for ‘Experiential Learning’ – the philosophical term behind the method of immersing oneself in a process in order to learn it. Experiential Learning has been around since 350 BCE, when Aristotle wrote, “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”. Most importantly, hands-on learning is uniquely positioned to support or elevate ANY type of learner! Best of all, research has proven that children who learn using hands-on methods outperform those who are not. Thus, physical tools engaging children visually and physically are constructive because little people are actively engaged in discovery by TRACING, MATCHING, TRANSFERRING & MANIPULATING during the learning process.

Montessori 3-Part Cards

Montessori Nomenclature Three-Part Cards refer to card materials that children manipulate in order to internalize the information on the cards and learn about their world. In a Montessori environment, these cards are used as a foundation of classification, reading, writing, culture, geography, and art. The three-part cards give a child an opportunity to build vocabulary, enrich the language, develop visual discrimination, and promote rational thinking. Montessori 3-part cards are an excellent way to increase mental ability and are suitable for a wide age range. You can use 3-part cards with toddlers as matching cards, and as actual 3-part cards with older children who are learning to read. 

Montessori 3-Part Cards
Montessori 3-Part Cards

For children who are NOT yet reading, you would start with a CONTROL CARD, which is a card that has a PICTURE and a LABLE, also called LABELED PICTURE CARD. Then, match a PICTURE only card and place it to the left of the control card. Lastly, match a LABEL card to the LABEL on a control card. (Note, even a child who can NOT read, might be able to VISUALLY match the label – that is match the sequence of letters.) Place the label card under the picture-only card on the right. You can start with one to three cards.

Lower to Upper Case Matching Literacy Puzzle

Montessori Literacy Puzzle Lower to Upper Case Matching
Montessori Literacy Puzzle Lower to Upper Case Matching

HOW: Cut out the clovers. (You can cut along the clover’s outline with scissors, or use a paper trimmer to cut as squares.) Then, cut along the red dotted lines. Invite a child to connect the corresponding lower and upper case letters. Control of error: each matching clover set will fit together like puzzle pieces. Optional: laminate for durability.

This Clover literacy puzzle is from PAGE 32 – 36 of 46-PAGE HANDS-ON PLAY-BASED St. PATRICK’s ACTIVITY PACK! Included is the order of presenting the alphabet according to the Montessori Language curriculum.

Clover Alphabet matching is suitable for children AGE three years and plus. This LITERACY MATCH LOWER TO UPPER CASE LETTER PUZZLE should be introduced after children who are familiar with the entire alphabet.

DIY Montessori Tracing Trays

DIY Montessori Tracing Trays
DIY Montessori Tracing Trays

Have you made DIY Montessori Tracing Trays or 3-part cards or literacy puzzles? Leave a comment if you did!


squeeze pouch-caps and pom poms Decorating Christmas Tree Learning Activity

Pouch-caps Christmas Tree Craft

This squeeze pouch-caps Christmas Tree recycled craft is perfect for preschoolers and kindergartners to refine fine motor control and practice color sorting. 

Brown Paper-Bag Turkey Handprint Kids Craft Thanksgiving

Brown Paper-Bag Turkey Handprint-Craft

This festive, colorful, and easy-to-make brown paper-bag turkey handprint is a fun Thanksgiving craft for all ages, making a perfect keepsake or a gratitude prompt.

Black Friday Holiday Guif Guide Montessori Toys and Gifts

Black Friday Montessori Toy-Gifts

Shop early and save on Montessori Toy-Gifts for babies, preschoolers, and kindergartners during the Black Friday sale event.

eBOOK | THE BASICS Bringing Montessori Home

“Our work is not to teach, but to HELP the absorbent mind in its work of development. How marvelous it would be if by our help, if by an intelligent treatment of the child, if by understanding the needs of his physical life and by feeding his intellect, we could prolong the period of functioning of the absorbent mind!”



Also, in case you are exhausted from swimming in the vast ocean of irrelevant information and saving activities you never get to! JOIN Montessori MADE-EASY membership! And if you do, the eBook THE BASICS is included in the membership amongst MANY other perks!


I am here to help! WE CAN DO THIS TOGETHER!

♡ Enriching the Mind one Heart at a time ♡
Enriching the Mind one Heart at a time

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