Make a salt writing tray for handwriting practice.
Handwriting is a big skill, but it’s a skill we often lose sight of as parents. It seems like such a basic skill and one we would anticipate kids will pick up quickly given enough chances to draw, write, and color.
But that’s not the case. Handwriting takes time.
Handwriting is a MASSIVE SKILL.
A giant developmental milestone with countless skills preceding it that took years to develop. If we considered handwriting with the same reverence we do walking, we’d be able to see all the key benchmarks kids meet on their way to handwriting.
Let’s celebrate making a diagonal line like we do sitting up.
Let’s cheer on hand strength like it’s crawling.
RELATED: See the developmental progression of handwriting here.
Handwriting is a really big deal.
It needs our support. It needs our patience. It needs time.
Using a salt writing tray is a great way to support handwriting development.
We don’t need to rush kids into pencils.
A lot of handwriting happens BEFORE actually writing. Seems counter-intuitive but again: think walking. A lot of the skills needed to walk aren’t actually walking (ie: pulling to stand, balance).
Salt writing trays give kids a chance to practice some of these key handwriting skills WITHOUT the added pressure of a pencil grip.
RELATED: Looking for a list of fine motor requirements for handwriting and just how much goes into this skill? It’s all right here.
Here’s how I set my salt writing tray up:
I dumped a good amount of salt into a tray. Simple simple.
On index cards, I drew shapes and symbols for my daughter (4) to copy.
At her age, she is working on drawing crosses, copying circles and squares, making vertical and horizontal lines. You can check here to learn more about your child’s age and handwriting progression.
She would grab a card from the stack and copy the design shown. Repeating this over and over has helped her be able to translate these skills to paper.
RELATED: Want to know more about how I teach my kids? Check out Playing Preschool, my activities program.
Next, she’d lightly tap the side of the tray to level out the salt.
Eventually, I’ll have her start trying this activity with a paint brush as her “writing tool” but for now she’s just going to focus on using her finger as the best pre-writing tool for her.
The goal of this activity is NOT letter formation.
It’s to build hand strength…
…to build muscle memory
…to build pre-writing skills
Pencil grip skills will come later. Letter formation will come later. Right now, we have to focus on those pulling up and sitting up skills. There’s no sense rushing them down the path of a skill they aren’t ready for yet.
Handwriting follows to predictable path…
and it’s just fine to let our kids move on this path without asking them to hurry up.
We gave them time and space and so much cheering as they learned to walk. Let’s do the same for handwriting.
Have you ever made a salt writing tray?