Salt tray writing is a super simple, multi-sensory way to encourage kids to practice letter formation and sight words. And with a little orange food color and a dash of pumpkin pie spice, you can quickly turn an ordinary salt tray into a PUMPKIN SPICE one.
It’s such a simple way to add a BIG dose of fall fun!
To make the pumpkin pie spice salt, I poured about 2 cups plain salt into a Ziploc baggie.
I needed enough to provide a solid layer on our baking sheet or tray but didn’t want so much that the salt would be too deep to write in.
I added several drops of orange food color (or 1 drop red and 2 drops yellow) to the Ziploc, sealed the baggie, then shook and kneaded it until the food color was dispersed.
HELPFUL TIP: In this case, regular liquid food color or liquid watercolor works better than gel food color because the gel tends to clump, leaving dark spots of salt that can dye children’s fingers if they squish them.
Once I reached the perfect shade of orange, I poured the salt onto a baking sheet with a lip and placed it in the oven set at 100 degrees for 15 minutes.
Once it dried, I sprinkled a teaspoon or so of pumpkin pie spice (a mix of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg) over the salt in the tray, mixed it around a little with my fingers, evened out the salt, and we were ready to play.
Ways to Play with the Salt Tray
I let my preschooler explore and play with the salt for a few minutes and then I showed him how he could make circles and lines in it.
He’s just learning his letters so teaching him how to make a line or a curve will help him recognize these components of letters.
For my almost 5 year old who is a whiz with reading sight words, I decided she could use a little practice writing them!
I grabbed a small pumpkin we had and quickly wrote a ton of simple sight words all over it with a permanent maker.
When my daughter came over to play, I had her close her eyes and point to a word. She read it out loud and then she wrote it in her tray.
At first she wasn’t too thrilled with closing her eyes – with Halloween still on her mind I think she was expecting a trick of some sort.
But after she realized it was all for fun, she couldn’t wait to try to find all the words on the pumpkin. She zipped through over a dozen words only stopping long enough to jiggle the tray to even the salt for the next word.
After another dozen or so words, she stopped to draw dinosaurs and then we cleaned up for lunch.
After we use the salt a few more times for writing practice, we’ll use it as a fragrant glitter substitute in some fall crafts that’ll have our house smelling delicious!
Editable Fall Sight Word Game
Continue the playful learning with our FREE editable sight word game!