Hidden Shapes in the Salt Tray

Shape Activities for Kids
What shapes can you find in the salt tray?  They are hidden under the salt; use your paint brush to sift through the salt to see if you can find them….
Hiding black paper shapes in our homemade Rainbow Salt Tray and searching for them is a fun, engaging and motivating activity for kids to learn about their shapes.
What you will need?
making a salt tray
For this activity we have re-used our Rainbow Salt Tray from a previous activity and added black paper cut out shapes. 
Firstly I removed all the salt from the tray and sticky taped 6 main shapes we have been learning onto the rainbow paper.  Then I added the salt back into the tray again.  You will also need a paint brush for this activity.
shape books for kids
Before starting this activity Miss 2 and I read the book Play Shapes by Begin Smart Books, which is a board/foam book that has removable shapes much like puzzle pieces that are used to match the shapes on different pages.  You can see the black circle in the middle picture is matched to the circles to the ladybug, it inserts into place. 
Let’s Play
hidden shapes in the salt tray
This was such an exciting play opportunity to learn about shapes for Miss 2 as she sifted with the paint brush through the salt to find the hidden shapes.  The concentration on her face was priceless as she tried to control the stokes with the paint brush.  Miss 2 also tried different techniques for moving the salt around the tray, some were more fast circular sifting strokes and others were long and slow strokes but she had every success in finding the shapes.
Miss 2 loves to copy and repeat words that I say at the moment so this was a great opportunity to continue to encourage this and say the names of the shapes she found.  It is also a great opportunity to count how many sides and corners some of the shapes have.
learning benefits of a salt tray
Learning Opportunities
  • Creativity
  • Fine Motor Development – Pre-writing skills
  • Hand-Eye Coordination and Control
  • Cause and Effect
  • Concentration
  • Spatial awareness – experimenting with shape and space
  • Language development – shape names
Shapes activities for kidsFind more shape activities & other ideas…..
Exploring Shapes
Rainbow Salt Tray


Learning 4 kids

Animal Rice Art – It’s Colourful magic!

Today I feel incredibly privileged to share a guest post with you written by a lovely blogging friend of mine, Penny  from Wildlife Fun 4 Kids.  Be sure to visit her fabulous website where you will find so many inspiring ideas, fun activities for kids and so much more!
activity for kids
Children love to touch, they love to play and they especially love magic. This activity extends on one of the activities created here at Learning 4 Kids. It doesn’t take much to prepare but can give your children hours of magical fun (while they learn)!
We are avid followers of Learning 4 Kids. I can’t help getting excited about the activities Janice creates with her children because I know my girls will love each and every one of them. We’ve had fun with the soap slime activity, camping indoors and nature painting, but our favourite so far is the coloured rice! We made a heap of it and tried out all of her suggestions. Then, I had an idea for another extension on this activity and I couldn’t wait to try it out with my girls.
While Miss Possum and the Twinkles were playing with the coloured rice (you can learn to make it here), I grabbed a glue stick from the cupboard and drew an animal on the paper in glue. I quickly handed the paper to Miss Possum and asked her to cover the whole sheet with rice. She looked back at me confused.
rice art
‘There’s a secret picture on there, it’s magic,’ I said.
‘Oooooh,’ she responded, and her quick little fingers started to cover the paper with rice. Magic is a great encouragement tool!
It’s important to get the rice onto the paper as soon as you’ve finished drawing the animal with the glue stick. Once the glue is on the page it can dry very quickly and that means the rice won’t stick.
Once the paper was covered with rice, we patted the rice down with our hands. We then folded the paper slightly and tipped the loose rice into a container and viola, beautiful animal rice art!
Art for kids
We made quite a few animals and then Miss Possum took over and used the magic glue stick herself and it was my turn to cover the paper with rice.
We also extended the activity by drawing numbers, letters and shapes with the glue stick.
Learning experience for this activity
  • Fun, interactive and motivating!
  • Animal recognition
  • Animal appreciation
  • Great for fine motor development and hand/eye coordination
  • The texture of the rice makes for a great sensory activity too!
Thank you so much to Janice for all her hard work on Learning 4 Kids. She is doing a wonderful job teaching her girls, and she’s even teaching mine too!
Penny is a wildlife education officer and a mother of three little girls. She writes Wildlife Fun 4 Kids to show parents that it’s not hard to bring wildlife appreciation into the daily life of your child. Her website encourages a love of wildlife in children through engaging, meaningful and fun wildlife activities.
You can visit Penny’s website at Wildlife Fun 4 Kids,  follow her Facebook Page or Pinterest

Rainbow Salt Tray

Pre writing activities
Why would you need crayons, textas, pencils and paper to draw when you can have more fun with a Rainbow Salt Tray!  Draw pictures, create patterns and practise writing your name with this simple to make Rainbow Salt Tray.  The greatest thing about a Rainbow Salt Tray is that it is cheap to set up, educational, you will find all the items around the home and it will entertain the littlies for hours!
A Rainbow Salt Tray is a great activity for kids of all ages, my 22 month old had a go and my 6 year old also had a play.  I just adapted and encouraged some ideas for them to try as they played.
What you will need?
You will need 5 basic things to create your very own Rainbow Salt Tray: about 100g cooking salt, sticky tape, coloured paper, a tray (see below for some ideas) and a paint brush.
  1. Cut the paper to fit and cover the base of the tray in order of the colours of a rainbow.   
  2. Place sticky tape over the joins of the paper to avoid the salt moving underneath the coloured paper.
  3. Cover the paper lightly with salt.
Tip: Only a small amount of salt is required for this activity as too much can make it harder to see the drawings.  You can also make your tray any colour you would like, possibly your child’s favourite colour, whatever motivates or interests them! 
Some ideas to use for a tray:
  • The lid to a plastic tub or container.
  • A cardboard box with the side cut down to size if needed.
  • A medium to large plastic container that has low sides.
Time to Play!
There are SO MANY things you can do with a Rainbow Salt Tray – here are a few ideas to try!
The Rainbow Salt Tray is a great activity for Miss 4 to practise writing her name and for Miss 22 months exploring the cause and effect of what happens when using the paint brush in the salt.  I think the look on her face says it all – FUN!
The Rainbow Salt Tray is a fabulous motivator to get kids who need that extra support to learn how to write their names.  The fun is watching the colours come through when writing and drawing in the salt. 
Miss 4 loves her numbers at the moment but is reluctant to try and write the ‘more difficult’ shape numbers such as 2 and 5.  She was more willing to have a go in the salt tray because she could so easily shake the tray and try again!  I also lightly formed their shaped in the salt for her to copy and trace over.
Miss 6 practising her current sight words, no boring paper and pencils here!
The Rainbow Salt Tray is great for encouraging creativity, with the freedom to make patterns and pictures.
Pre-writing skills actvities 
Shake it and start again!  Hours of fun!!
Learning benefits of playing with a Rainbow Salt Tray:
  • Creativity
  • Fine Motor Development – Pre-writing skills
  • Hand-Eye Coordination
  • Cause and Effect
  • Spatial awareness – experimenting with shape and space
Eye spy with my little eye, I spot other great salt tray activities around the web!
Laughing Kids Learn - Salt Drawing or Writing
Teach Preschool - Feather Tip Salt Tray Writing
Thanks so much for visiting! xx
Learning 4 kids

Pipe Cleaner Maze

With Miss 5 at school full time now and Miss 4 going to kindy 2 – 3 times a week, it has opened up more opportunities for Miss 22 months to have some one on one play with me.  While she was napping the other day I laid out a few materials for her to play with when she woke.  She had so much fun exploring and playing with the pipe cleaners and beads with the Styrofoam while exercising her fine motor muscles.
What you will need?
You will need pipe cleaners, threading beads (or tubular pasta) and Styrofoam.  We got our Styrofoam out of a packing box and I plan many more things for it.  It doesn’t matter what shape the foam is either as this adds to the play opportunities.
I just love the look of concentration on Miss 22months face as she threads the pipe cleaner through the hole of the bead.  To create mazes we pushed both ends of the pipe cleaner into the Styrofoam with a bead threaded on.
Discovery!  Finding that she is able to move the bead along the pipe cleaner and making the standing up pipe cleaners wobble when she pushes them.
The importance of fine motor development
It is important for young children to exercise their fine motor skills. It helps to develop their muscles within their fingers and wrists. It is important for these muscles to be strengthened in early childhood so they are strong enough to hold and control a pencil for writing. Manipulating pipe cleaners and threading beads is an effective way of getting those little muscles the exercise to develop strength.
Other learning benefits of Pipe Cleaner Mazes:
  • Spatial awareness – experimenting with shape and space
  • Eye and hand coordination
  • Fine motor development
  • Problem solving and trial and error – over coming challenges
Other FAB Pipe Cleaner and Bead Mazes around the WebTeach Preschool
Learning 4 kids

A Fun Game for Building Fine Motor

In the early years, we often hear discussions about the importance of fine motor and gross motor development in kids. Here is a great activity that is fun and exercises those little muscles to develop strength!
Mr Dad and I played this game with Miss 3 (at the time) and Miss 5 and it got very competitive at times but loads of FUN!
Miss 5′s hands were getting sore; she gave them a great work out!
You will need
There are no real fixed items that you will need for this game, you can be creative with things that you already have around the home!
You could use anything small that you can pick up with tongs or tweezers. We used coloured pom poms and match sticks from our craft box. These items can be found in local craft shops and discount stores. Pop sticks, dry pasta and small toys are other ideas of you could use.
You will also need some baskets, bowls or some other form of container to place the pom poms and match sticks in. We used 4 baskets for our game, one for each player and then later one for each colour.
Playing the game
We set a challenge- You need to get as many match sticks or pom poms into your basket without touching them with your hands! When they are all gone, we stop and see who gotthe most!
The element of a challenge creates a motivation and an interest. You could also set a timer and when the timer stops, count how many you were able to get.
To add another dimension to the game we added our colours cards to sort the pom poms and matchsticks into groups.    
Each player was given one coloured card and their task was to collect only that colour. Who will finish first? Then we swapped our colour cards. You will be surprised at how quick the kids get at this when you set them a challenge.  This is also a great activity for learning and reinforcing our colours.
The importance of fine motor development
It is important for young children to develop their fine motor skills. It helps to develop their muscles within their fingers and wrists. It is important for these muscles to be strengthened so that they are strong enough to hold and control a pencil for writing. Manipulating tweezers, tongs or other similar items to pick up match sticks or pompoms is a fun and effective way of getting those little muscles the exercise to develop strength.
Click here to download and print:
Printable Coloured Dots
Thanks for reading!
Learning 4 kids
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