Colorful Salt Tray Numbers

Preschooler using a paintbrush to write numbers on a tray of salt

Learning Value:

This activity promotes development and learning by encouraging children to demonstrate an understanding of number names, order, and quantity and use hands and fingers to explore and interact with the environment.

Materials Needed:

  • Baking tray, shallow bin, or cardboard box (cut the sides down if necessary)
  • 2-3 cups of salt or fine, clean sand
  • Colored construction paper or colorful wrapping paper
  • Glue or double-stick tape
  • Paintbrush, chopstick, or stick
  • Small pieces of paper with a number written on each one

Participants: This activity is intended for independent play with approximately 5 minutes of adult preparation.


  1. Write numerals on the pieces of paper, one number to a piece. The numerals 1-10, are a good place to start for preschoolers. You can add 11-20 for a challenge if your child is familiar with them.
  2. Choose 4-5 sheets of colored paper (or one sheet of wrapping paper) and cut to fit the base of the tray.
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Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Preschooler using a paintbrush to write numbers on a tray of salt