Salt tray mazes

In our classroom, we have used salt trays in many different ways to promote handwriting skills.  Come discover how our preschool children also used their engineering skills to create their own salt tray mazes…

Salt tray mazes by Teach Preschool

The inspiration for this activity came from our very own big cardboard box maze.  You can read all about it here.  After playing with our large cardboard box maze as a group, we wanted the children to be able to recreate their own personal-sized mazes to explore…

Salt tray mazes by Teach Preschool

This activity is super simple to set up.  First set out trays or shoe box lids.  These mini art trays are available from Discount School Supply or United Arts and Education.  Add just enough salt to cover the bottom of each tray.  Lastly, set out straws that have been cut down to a variety of lengths.  Before the children were set loose to explore this activity on their own, we demonstrated a few ways that they could create their mazes…

Salt tray mazes by Teach Preschool

We also shared with the children a few tips and reminders about how to play with the salt trays.   We reminded the children that this isn’t a scooping and pouring activity.  Throughout the school year, we give the children plenty of opportunity to scoop and pour with a variety of sensory materials.  This isn’t one of those opportunities.  Instead, we asked that they use the salt just for writing or drawing or tracing with their fingers.  We showed the children how to gently shake or tap the tray on the table to “erase” the salt lines that they created.  With a few guidelines in place, the children are free to explore writing and drawing in the salt trays as they wish…

Salt tray mazes by Teach Preschool

Some children enjoyed laying the straws out in various patterns, while others focused on creating shapes…

Salt tray mazes by Teach Preschool

Some of the mazes that the children built were amazing!  The colorful straw mazes were complete with dead ends, forcing their little fingers to backtrack to find an alternate route…

Salt tray mazes by Teach Preschool

These salt tray mazes were a lot of fun for the children to create.  Activities that promote fine motor skills and explore engineering concepts don’t have to be time consuming or costly…

Salt tray mazes by Teach Preschool

You can create amazing opportunities for exploration with simple things found around your home or classroom.  What fun everyday materials have you been exploring with lately?

Salt Tray Mazes by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

Links to grow on:

Feather tip salt tray writing by Teach Preschool

Counting activity: A maze of numbers by Hands On: As We Grow

Moon dust sensory writing tray by The Imagination Tree

By |2013-03-04T06:00:35+00:00March 4th, 2013|

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. Tina March 4, 2013 at 7:04 am - Reply

    Thanks for the idea!

    I really wanted to read about your large cardboard box maze but the link doesn’t work. Could you fix it, so I can check it out? 😉

    Thanks again,

  2. Corrie March 4, 2013 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    You are so creative

  3. Niamh Bevan March 5, 2013 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    I love this & I’d like to try it with the kids but could you tell me at what age group did you direct the activity toward please?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 5, 2013 at 3:22 pm - Reply

      These children are all now between the ages of four and five years old!

  4. Amanda March 7, 2013 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    We did shaving cream sensory today. Do you tell the kids the purpose and then kind of let them do what they will with your activities like this or do you make sure they know they are expected to, for example, make letters or numbers. Thanks for all your great ideas!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. March 7, 2013 at 11:35 pm - Reply

      Hi Amanda,
      If this is one of their first experiences, I let them just explore freely so they can get a feel for the newness of shave cream. If they have explored the shave cream often, then I will start introducing different ways to explore the shave cream such as writing letters but even still, I almost never limit the shave cream experience to just a single purpose – I introduce the letter writing by sitting down and inviting them to try making designs or letters but I don’t limit the play to only my purpose.

      • Amanda March 9, 2013 at 12:21 pm

        That was what we did and we had about 50/50 results, which I was very happy with. Many children just played but many tried to form letters, as well.

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