Here’s how to set up a simple salt sensory tray with rocks. Younger children can use it for sensory play and as a way to explore making designs, imprints, and even marble runs, while older children can practice writing letters and spelling words or sight words in it. It’s like having their very own zen garden!
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I love to set out play invitations for the kids to create and experiment with. I find play invitations are great activities for toddlers and older kids as well! What I especially love about this salt and rock tray is it’s very open ended, allowing the kids to create and explore the materials on their own. And as an added benefit, it’s a great sensory play experience!
Today I created a simple salt sensory tray while the kids were having rest time. I simply poured some inexpensive salt into a wooden tray (similar to this wooden tray). You could also use fine sand or kinetic sand in place of the salt. I also added some rocks (like these river rocks). I couldn’t wait to see how the kids played with the invitation after rest time!
Lucy was the first one finished with her quiet time. (She gave up naps at age 2- eek! But every day since, she’s still had 45 minute rest times where she reads or does a quiet activity in her room.)
I loved watching all the things she did with her tray!
First she enjoyed just rubbing her hands all through the salt.
Then she started drawing pictures and lines. She enjoyed showing me all the different types of lines she could make: curvy, straight, and zigzag. She also loved moving the rocks around in the salt and incorporating them into her pictures.
Later she created designs and called me over. “Mom, what picture do you see in my design? Do you see a smiley face?” We had fun seeing all kinds of different pictures in the abstract designs she created.
She also drew a maze in the salt with her finger for me to do. After tracing the maze with my finger, I added a marble to the tray. We pushed the marble through the maze!
Then she started collecting items to create imprints in the salt. She used a cap from her applesauce squeezie to make circles. “I use different tools as I go,” she announced proudly!
Later Theo woke up and it was his turn. He loved the feeling of running his hands through all the salt. There were lots of squeals of delight! He also enjoyed rubbing the rocks around in the sand to hear the sounds they made.
To be honest, I actually sat and played with the salt tray for a while. It was very calming. (I may need to start pulling this out after those long days to help me relax!)
You can also make mini salt trays! Simply find any small, shallow container, add some salt and rocks! We made this one using the top of an old cardboard box.
I’ll definitely be setting this play invitation out often~ so simple and so fun!
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