Array DIY Montessori Tracing Trays | Montessori From The Heart

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 + Video Tutorials.

Have you ever thought about how to make learning more enticing? 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 fillers helps the brain to encode (that is to put to memory) how we write the 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 rather than passively absorbing the information.

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+ pages of St. Patrick’s Activity Pack!

Dyed Rice DIY Montessori Tracing Trays

Sensory Fillers for Montessori Tracing Trays

Below are some of the fillers you can use to make a DIY tracing tray:

  1. dyed rice (shades of green)
  2. dyed rainbow rice
  3. 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 it on a wooden tray. Follow the recipe below to make dyed rice.

How to Make Dyed Rainbow Rice + Recipe

Polenta Montessori Tracing Tray


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 40+ pages of St. Patrick’s Activity Pack!


  • To laminate, you can use an iron instead of a laminating machine. (I am using these thermal laminating pouches.) Instructions: 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 ones 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.

Pre-Writing Strokes

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.

See a detailed post about Pre-Writing Strokes HERE.

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 vertical, 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 and 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!

Left to Right Progression

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 left to right. We want to practice this skill because this is how we read and write.

DIY Salt Rainbow Montessori Tracing Tray | Puzzle | 3-part Cards

Video Tutorial

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.

DIY Salt Rainbow Montessori Tracing Tray


First, 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.) P

Next, pour your sensory filler. I used salt as a taste-safe option. You can also use sugar or baked flour.

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 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 and Literacy Puzzles

Montessori 3-Part Cards

Montessori Nomenclature Three-Part Cards refer to card materials that children manipulate to internalize the information on the cards and learn about their world. In a Montessori environment, children use these cards as a foundation for classification, reading, writing, culture, geography, and art. These Nomenclature cards allow a child to build vocabulary, enrich language skills, develop visual discrimination, and promote rational thinking.

Montessori 3-part cards are excellent tools 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

How to Use Montessori 3-Part Nomenclature Cards

For children who are not yet reading, start with a control card, which is a card that has a picture and a label, also called a 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 match the label visually. That matches 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


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 40+ pages of 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 aged three years and over. This literacy puzzle should be introduced to 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!


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

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