Colored Dyed Salt Writing-Trays

Colored Dyed Salt Writing-Trays

How to make at home DIY colored dyed salt tracing and writing tray in no time for preschoolers to practice letter formation and refine fine motor control.

Here is how to make DIY colored dyed salt writing-trays to help your little one work on letter formation. If you have never heard of a tracing/writing tray, it is a tray or a shallow container with a layer of salt, sand, rice, grain, or other sensory filler. Children use their finger(s) to practice pre-writing strokes and lines or practice forming letters, words, numbers, or even shapes. It is much easier for early writers to trace in salt than to hold a pencil and write/trace with it. Most importantly, by adding a sensory dimension to the activity, a child is utilizing and refining the sense of touch, creating better and stronger synaptic connections within the developing brain.

Colored Dyed Salt Tracing | Writing-Trays

Colored Dyed Salt Writing-Trays
Colored Dyed Salt Writing Tracing Sensory Trays

Dyed salt is so satisfying! It is silky to the touch, taste-safe, and non-perishable. You can use this tracing tray to practice pre-writing strokes or explore textures with babies and toddlers; however, in this activity, we use this sensory tray to practice letter formation.

Dyed Salt Recipe

This recipe is one of the easiest and least expensive you would have ever made! And, it feels sand-like texture but even silkier, without all the hindrances the beach salt brings. [Raise your hand if you are like me and prefer to leave the sand at the beach! Lol] Besides, you can make the most beautiful colors! Salt trays are very effective for practicing pre-writing skills, which are essential to learning how to write or practicing letter or number formation.

What You’ll Need To Make Colored Dyed Salt Writing-Trays

Here is a list of materials you will need to make colored dyed salt:

  1. *a tray
  2. table salt
  3. food coloring
  4. recycled jar or a zip lock bag
  5. a small rake (optional)
  6. letter formation cards

*For a tray, use what you have, but make sure there is a contrast between the color of your tray and the tracing medium.

Don’t have salt? No problems! Fine grain, cornmeal, flour, or baking soda will work too.

If you liked the printable, join Montessori Language Course

Montessori Homeschool Language Curriculum course
Montessori Homeschool Language Curriculum

How to Make Colored Dyed Salt

Below are the instructions on how to make dyed rice either in a ziplock bag or in a recycled jar:

ZipLock Bag Option

First, pour salt into a zip-lock bag. Then, add a few drops of food coloring to the bag. Next, remove the air from the bag and close it well. Lastly, shake the bag until the salt is coated evenly.

Little goes a long way! I added a drop or two. The more you add, the more saturated the color will be.)

*Colored Dyes Salt Recipe
*Colored Dyes Salt Recipe
Recycled Jar Option

♻️You can also mix the salt in a recycled jar.

First, pour the salt into a recycled jar. Next, add a few drops of food coloring. Then, shake the jar until the salt is coated evenly. You might have to open the jar and use a fork to break the clumps of salt apart. Close, shake, and repeat.  Lastly, pour the salt onto a tray to just cover the bottom. Don’t pour too much salt since you want to see the bottom of the tray when tracing a line in salt with a finger.

Video Tutorial

Montessori Literacy

Children’s sensitive window for writing opens up at about 3 1/2 years.  So, offer plenty of opportunities to practice tracing in a sensory filler before a child can hold a pencil.  

Montessori Phonetic Set CMAT
Montessori Phonetic Set CMAT

While you can use these sensory tracing trays as a pre-writing practice (tracing lines, zig-zags, and curves), I am using them to practice the first phonetical set/cmat/ according to the Montessori language curriculum.

In a Montessori language curriculum, letters are introduced phonetically (the way they 🔊sound) rather than by the letter name. Also, letters are presented first in phonetical sets and not in a commonly known ABC order. The phonetical grouping of certain consonants and vowels has been proven to be more effective than others in allowing children to form quickly as many words as possible using those sounds. There are a few Montessori Phonetical Alphabet grouping sets suggested. The order we follow is suggested by Tim Seldin.

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

The Montessori language curriculum is like no other! You can start as early as 18 months while exploring spoken language and enriching vocabulary with I SPY and other sound games.

A child then gradually progressed towards phonemic awareness practice, letter 🧺 hunts, tactile letter formation tracing, etc.

Children that follow the Montessori language curriculum can learn to blend and read as early as 3 1/2 yr. This pedagogy is brilliant, and it works!

What Do Children Use To Trace With?

Children can use an index finger, a stick, or a paintbrush to trace/form letters in the sand. However, using fingers provides the most sensory experience. Running a finger through the gritty salt provides a fantastic tactile experience, which will help little ones remember the shape of each letter they make.

*Colored Dyes Salt Montessori Phonetic Set 1
*Colored Dyes Salt Montessori Phonetic Set 1

No Dye, No Problem, Keep it Non-colored!

Please note that you can choose not to dye the salt, but make sure to present the activity on a contrasting color tray. [Please, no white on white.] Or layer colorful paper onto the tray to give it a color pop. Because tracing in white salt on a white tray will not be pronounced to visually discriminate the shape/letter a child is tracing.

How To Make A Salt Tray More Enticing?

Use Colorful Paper

The color of the tray and the salt should have contrast in color. Such disparity makes the letter more visible when a child traces them. Also, you can spark interest by placing different color paper on the bottom of the tray. You can use any plain colorful paper, whimsical scrapbook paper, or even textured or glitter paper. This step is particularly important if you choose not to color your salt. 

Details HERE DIY Montessori Tracing Trays.

For More Literacy Ideas …

DIY Alphabet-Objects Wood-Transfer Labels Free Watercolor Language Labels
DIY Alphabet-Objects Wood-Transfer Labels Free Watercolor Language Labels
See HERE DIY Alphabet-Objects Wood-Transfer Labels.

Have you tried setting up Colored Dyed Salt Writing-Trays? Leave a comment!


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If you are looking for unique kids painting ideas, then skip the brushes and use forks to make Fork-Stamped Tulips Toddler-craft.

Taste-Safe Sensory Aquafaba Frog-Pond

Two-ingredient edible foam as a taste-safe sensory play idea filler to substitute shaving foam, Aquafaba frog pond is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers to explore Amphibians hands-on.| Video Tutorial Included.

Straw-Print Flower Painting Craft

Easy straw-print flower painting toddler-friendly kids’ craft to develop fine motor skills, foster imagination, and offer an outlet for creative expression | Video Tutorial and Free Vase Template are Included.

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

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