Autumn-Themed Writing Tray

Autumn Themed Writing Tray | Mama Papa Bubba

Without a doubt, one of my most used resources in my Kindergarten and Grade One classes was the stack of coloured plastic plates filled with salt that I kept in my teacher’s cupboard.  They were the simplest thing ever – literally plastic plates in a bright colour {aqua and gold always seemed to be the favourites} filled with a very thin layer of salt I’d bought at the dollar store.  Despite their simplicity, we used them constantly…  When practicing letter and number formation, when learning to draw shapes, when learning about different types of lines used in art, and when doing literacy and math centres… The list could go on.  

So when Miss G first expressed an interest in learning how to write her name a few years ago, one of the very first things I did was put together a simple name writing tray filled with salt.  As nearly all of my students had, she loved it.  And for good reason too – not only are writing trays hands-on, tactile, and fun, but they’re are super low stress.  If you make a mistake or something doesn’t turn out as you hoped it would, you simply give the tray a little shake back and forth while keeping the bottom on the table and your marks magically disappear!  {How awesome is that, right?}

Since then, we’ve always had a sand or salt-based writing tray out in our literacy centre for Miss G to use when she pleases.  Our recent beach-themed writing tray was a hit, and since Grae has recently been super interested in writing numbers, I figured it was time to change it up and create something new…  {Enter our *scented* autumn-themed writing tray!}

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This was a breeze to put together and required only things we had around the house, which I always consider a win.  To make it, I gathered up a wooden tray from our Melissa & Doug lacing set {any plate or tray with a lip around the edge will work}, a piece of yellow paper {which isn’t necessary, but adds to the fun}, some leaf cut outs from a box of old teaching stuff (you could very easily make your own or use real leaves which my friend Anna did in a very similar and absolutely beautiful sensory writing tray}, some salt, food colouring or liquid watercolours, and an extract of some sort {I used maple – mmmmm!}

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While plain white unscented salt works perfectly well, coloured and/or scented salt is fun too, so I try to switch it up every now and then.  To colour the salt, all you need to do is pour it into a zip-close bag or air-tight container, add several drops of food colouring or liquid watercolours {plus a little bit of extract if you’re using it}, then seal it up and shake vigorously.  In no time, you’ll have beautiful evenly coloured salt!

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Afterwards, pour it out onto a shallow pan and let it dry in the sun for a little while…  This process is surprisingly quick and usually only takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

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Next up, I prepared some number leaves for Miss G to ‘copycat’ by simply writing the numbers 0 through 10 on the leaves with Sharpie.  Because I’d noticed her forming some of her numbers in slightly awkward ways earlier in the week, I also included a red ’starting spot’ on each number so she’d know where to position her finger when beginning a new numeral.  {You can read all kinds of information about this, but the general rule is that most letters and numbers should be started at the top.}

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With the coloured maple salt nearly dry and our leaf number cards ready to go, I cut the yellow paper down to size so that it would fit in the bottom of the tray.  As I mentioned before, this isn’t necessary, but it’s kind of fun to see a bright colour peek out as you practice printing your numbers.

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When the salt was completely dry, I poured it into the tray making sure to keep the layer relatively thin {the marks show up better this way} and left it out for Miss G to discover.

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She’s been playing with it here and there each day since, and because today was absolutely gorgeous, she decide to take it outside this afternoon.

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What I love about activities like this one is that I’ve already noticed fewer reversals and an improvement in Grae’s letter formation without having to coach her through any of those changes or correct her while she’s printing for fun, which is a total win in my books!

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5 thoughts on “Autumn-Themed Writing Tray

  1. I love this idea! My son is diagnosed hyperactive and gifted. His school director said that most hyperactive kids really hate writing. Plus he is gifted so he does things his way. He is 2 years old. He hates writing and coloring but I am slowly getting him to like it by giving him different fun activities. I gave him some magic markers and those made him doodle a lot. Also just today during homeschool, he said that he wanted to color the pictures on the book so that’s a win for us! We will definitely do this activity. Thank you for sharing!

    I have been following your blog and am subscribed to your newsletter. I love your tips and your photographs! Since you’re a teacher, do you have any more tips on how I can encourage my son to write? Thank you so much in advance!

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