Number Writing Activity. Salt Tray Game.

Jul 1, 2013

This quick and easy to set up activity uses a few basic materials and is fabulous for practicing number writing, counting, subitising and more. It can be a great independent activity that promotes self checking and self correction.

Ages: 3+
(Maddie was 4 here. See the bottom for Handy Tips to simplify or extend to meet your child's needs)

Materials: Table Salt, Dish, Cardboard squares, marker, paintbrush

On one side of each card, write a number and on the other side draw the corresponding amount of dots.

The invitation to play

The child counts (or subitises where possible) the amount of dots on the card. They then write the number in the salt. Flip the card to see if you got it right. If not, shake your salt tray a little and then copy the number correctly.

For Maddie I did numbers up to 30. As the numbers got larger it was harder for her to subitise them (automatically recognising the amount shown without counting), but we worked on seeing them in chunks. She noticed that the 9 was 3 rows of 3 dots. It was then also easy to automatically see 6 dots and 3 more.

She loved attempting the numbers and then flipping the card to see if she got it right.

The self correction aspect meant that this would be a great independent activity and perfect for a literacy station in schools.

Capturing pride through accomplishment. All children need the opportunity to experience success and to feel proud of their achievements. Activities such as these allow for children to practice and self correct until they succeed. 

Always time for some free play as well.

Using the end of the paintbrush was great for a pen but it's also fun to write with your fingers.

Maddie made up her own little game of find the number. The paintbrush is perfect as a little palaeontologist tool. 
Rather than number writing you could focus on counting and one-to-one correspondence as shown above.

Handy Tips:

Simplify this activity by providing numbers 1-3 to begin with and then slowly expanding on the numbers. Try out some of the ideas directly above. Rather than number writing, focus on counting and corresponding amounts to the dots shown. 

Extend this activity by:
  • Focusing on teen numbers or higher.
  • Having the children make the number cards themselves
  • Mixing up the number cards and having children order them from smallest to largest or largest to smallest.
  • Playing "Which comes next?" or "What comes before?" where whichever number is chosen from the pile, the objective is to write the number that comes before or after that number. You can make varying number cards to suit this specifically if you like.

Mix it up by doing the activity the other way around. Have the written number side up and encourage children to recognise the number and draw in the corresponding amount of dots.

-  Here are some of our other activities that help us practice number writing.
Click the following pictures to take you to the activities.


- Practice Literacy skills using a Salt Tray as well.
(click the picture to go to the post)
2 fun Letter Games with Salt. Sensory Letter Learning

Happy playing,
Debs :)

We like to play here as well. Come play with us :)
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  1. This is fabulous!!! My son just turned one in June so a little young yet. I will pin this though for future reference. We will definitely be trying this. A great way for little ones to learn and have some fun at the same time.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Have a great day :)

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment, Bismah. You've certainly put a smile of my face. Have a lovely day yourself :) Debs.

  2. What a great activity. I think my little girl will love it. Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Love this I am a pediatric OT and if they used their fingers for this, the sensory feedback would really help them to solidify what they were using. As OT's we do a lot of writing in different textures, for this reason. Salt is genius! Love the cards! Going to share on my fb page!

    Alisha @

    1. Thanks Alisha! We do often do the writing with our fingers so I was trying to make it a bit different for my daughter with the paint brush end.. but, she ended up using her finger anyway haha :) Thanks for the share :)

  4. Love this idea! Can't wait to try this with my 2 preschoolers!

  5. You sure are an awesome mum, Debs. x

  6. Such a great way to teach children. They would absolutely love creating pictures but I think any specific lessons would be better understood with this approach. I also like that if they make a mistake it's easy made for another attempt. Great work!!!

    1. Thanks Kate. Always a popular one with kids at school :)

  7. What did you use for your container? I use colored sand in my classroom but haven't been able to find flat bottomed containers. I also like the size of the container you used since most of my students have fine motor difficulties. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Hi Heather. I've been using a baking dish/pan. Just a cheap one as I was worried the salt (or kids) might scratch the black non-stick coating on a good one. It's good because as you said, it has a flat bottom and the black lining makes a good contract to the salt. :)

  8. Greatings from Greece!!! what a great way to teach maths !!!!

  9. I am in love with ur blog, so many fun ideas to try with my daughter.

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