Printing in the salt tray in prek

When my students arrive to preschool each morning, they know that the first thing they need to do is to put their jackets and backpacks away and then come and join me for morning circle. This is why I got a little chuckle out of seeing this little handprint in the salt tray before circletime began. Someone just couldn’t resist giving the salt tray a quick try before putting their jacket away…

I had two small salt trays set out along with a short, chubby paint brush in each tray and the children’s name cards sitting by the trays…

Because the children are used to using materials like this for scooping and pouring, I took a minute to show them how to use the salt trays for printing practice rather than for scooping and pouring today…

We talked about how you can use the sides of the brush to smooth out the salt and either end of the paint brush to print the letters of their names in the salt…

Each tray holds about one full container of salt. I will save the salt in a “salt box” for future printing practice. I could tell the children really wanted to scoop and pour the salt but I have lots of other materials they can use for scooping and pouring so I stuck to my guns this time…

We are spending extra time on our lower case letters and the children are all quite proud to show me how they can write their name with the lower case letters…

One of the children remembered how we hid our letters in the rice last time we did something like this and decided he would rather go on a letter hunt, so in the end – we did wind up with a little digging and scooping…

Oh well, sometimes you just have to let the children try new ideas their way and trust that in time, they will be more ready to try the process in the way you would like them to.  So we did a little printing, a little digging, a little hunting, and more than a little salt ended up on the table:)

But we will bring our salt box out again soon and try some more printing – the kids did enjoy the salt box writing process with a little scooping here and there along the way…

I am linking this post up with No Time for Flashcards: Link and Learn!

By |2012-01-21T18:00:15+00:00January 21st, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Lorie January 21, 2012 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    Love that little hand print!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 21, 2012 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      It was my favorite part of the whole day:)

  2. andiejaye January 22, 2012 at 12:33 am - Reply

    teehee… i can see how it was tempting! and looks like such fun! i love the idea of a letter hunt!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      The kids loved the letter hunt! I have added another idea in the comments below from Nancy:)

  3. Charlotte January 22, 2012 at 3:04 am - Reply

    We have just done a salt tray too but we dyed ours bright red! I love the idea of putting letters under the salt to trace – what age are pre-k students?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 22, 2012 at 2:59 pm - Reply

      Love the idea of adding color! I received this photo from Nancy in my email. She provides this great advice:

      “We use a salt tray in our classroom and encourage them to use just their fingers in the tray (vs sensory table when it has sand which is whole hand). Our salt tray has only about 1/3 cup of salt in it so that they get a visual of what they “write” in the tray. Having a dark color on the bottom of the container is valuable. Dark colored cake pans or cookie sheets work fine. And yes it does take some self control for them not to put their whole hand in. It happens but they gradually work towards appropriate use.”

      Salt Tray from Nancy!

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