How to make your own writing tray

A fun and interactive way to encourage handwriting in preschool!

One of my favorite ways to encourage the children to practice writing their names is by setting out the writing tray which is also called a salt box or sand tray.

Making your own Salt or Sand Writing Tray

To put together your own salt box or sand writing tray, keep the following in mind…

  1. Choose a shallow box or tray with a slick surface (or add a laminated card to the bottom). You want the bottom of the tray to be slick so the sand or salt easily slides out out of the way when the children write in it. An acrylic tray works nicely.
  2. Put a small amount of salt or sand inside the tray to lightly cover the surface of the tray. If you add too much salt or sand, then the sand or salt will keep flowing back into the writing space. Start with just a little sand or salt and add a little more as needed.
  3. Use contrasting colors. If your tray is white, for example, use a darker color sand. If your tray or box is brown, use a lighter color sand or use salt.

Using Your Salt or Sand Writing Tray

  1. Invite the children to use their fingertips to draw or write in the sand or salt.
  2. Print the children’s name on a card or chalkboard so they can look at it while printing their own name.
  3. When the children wish to erase their drawing or writing, encourage them to shake the tray.
  4. Then start all over again.

Keep the Tray out for Regular Writing Practice

A salt or a sand tray is a wonderful addition to the classroom and you can keep it out so the children can continuously practice writing and drawing. Keep in mind that when you first set up this invitation to write, the children may want to explore the material in a variety of ways. This is another reason not to put too much sand or salt in your tray. I always tell my students that the sand tray is for writing and the sand table is for scooping and pouring. They get the idea pretty quickly.

The sand we used in this tray came from Hobby Lobby. There are all different colors there so we switch out the colors every so often just to keep the sand writing tray fresh and fun. We also keep the tray on our sign-in table for a little extra practice each morning as the children come into the classroom.

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Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

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