This snow writing tray is easy to set up and lets kids practice emerging writing skills. Plus, it’s perfect for an Arctic theme or as one of your winter activities for preschoolers.
Are you following my Winter Animals Theme Pinterest board?
Related: Arctic Small World
Snow Writing Tray
Winter tends to be a great time to explore snow, colder areas of the world, and animals that live in colder climates.
To jump into a discussion about the Arctic tundra, I put together a sensory writing tray for the preschool kiddos. It was a highly engaging activity, and we had some great discussions!
Related: Winter Songs for Preschoolers
Arctic Salt Tray Learning Goals
While this tray can be used for a variety of activities, these were my main objectives for the activity:
- Introduce the concept of Arctic animals and the Arctic tundra
- Reinforce left-to-right progression when writing
- Practice writing different shapes, lines, and letters
- Give the children a tactile sensory experience
- Get some conversations going about Arctic animals and writing
Materials We Used
I kept the snow writing tray pretty simple. Just enough to give the kids sensory input while adding a few Arctic-themed items.
You can definitely change things up a bit depending on your own preferences.
Winter Sensory Writing Tray Set-Up
Start off by placing a shallow layer of kosher salt in a tray. We used a bamboo tray, but you can use a different type of tray if you prefer.
Next, place the glass gems into a small bowl. My students loved this bamboo bowl, so they requested we use it for the gems. I was happy to oblige.
Once the snow writing tray is ready to go, make your writing prompt cards. Do so by writing various designs on strips of card stock. You can also use letter or number cards.
I have a huge stash of white card stock cut into 1 1/2-inch strips, so I grabbed some of those. I drew a few different designs on the strips, from rolling curves to zigzags.
Finally, add the Arctic animal toys. You can place them to the side of the tray or right there in the salt.
Related: Arctic Animal STEM Activity
Using the Arctic Snow Writing Tray
Call your students over and explain that you’ve created an Arctic tundra tray for them to play and write in.
I suggest starting off with some free exploration of the items. This way the children can run their fingers through the salt, use the animal toys, and play with the glass gems. My students scooped salt, dumped glass gems into the salt, and told stories with the animals.
Related: Arctic Animals Preschool Printables
This is a great time to chat with the children. My class and I had some fun conversations, running the gamut from Christmas presents, to what snowflakes look like, to the Arctic tundra, to caribou versus reindeer.
After that, you can move onto the mark-making aspect of the sensory writing tray.
Start off by placing the igloo on the right-hand side of the tray, with an animal of the left-hand side. Put a pattern card along the top of the tray.
Then have the children draw paths in the salt using the Arctic animals. We had them walk, hop, and swim to the igloo at the other end. Sometimes we used the glass gems to mark the lines, as well. Of course, the kiddos created their own tracks and lines along the way too! Sometimes they used the animals, and other times they used their fingers.
Related: Winter Messy Play Ideas
My students really enjoyed this snowy writing tray. We ended up having it out for about two weeks, with the kids engaged every school day.
Other Ways to Use the Arctic Writing Tray
This snow writing tray can be used for a variety of other activities, too. Here are just a few:
- Write letters, names, and words in the salt
- Work on writing numbers in the salt
- Write a number, and then add the correct amount of glass gems
How would you and your kids explore this sensory writing experience?
More Arctic Tundra-Themed Activities
Here are more activities to tray alongside the Arctic snow writing tray:
Home-made Books: Tundra by Powerful Mothering
Arctic Animals Writing Prompts by The Educators’ Spin On It
Why Are Polar Bears White? | Animal Adaptations on the Arctic Tundra by Raising Lifelong Learners
Tundra Animal Sharing and Halving by Rainy Day Mum
Arctic Animal Matching Games by Life Over C’s
Arctic Animals Preschool Science: Blubber and Ice Explorations! by The Preschool Toolbox Blog
Learning About the Woolly Bear Caterpillar by Capri + 3
Arctic Preschool Letter Hunt by No-Stress Homeschooling
Polar Bear Sound Activity by Growing Book by Book
Arctic Preschool Lesson Plans
Save time and get right to the playful learning with our printable lesson plan sets. Each set includes book suggestions, printable plans, over 30 learning activities (both whole group and centers) related to the theme, and corresponding printables (listed below).
The preschool printables that come with these plans are:
- Arctic Animal Sort – Animals that Live on Land versus Animals that Live in Water
- Animal Puzzles (in color and b/w)
- The Arctic Emergent Reader (3 versions)
- Arctic Letter Puzzles (in color and b/w)
- Number Cards 0-35 (in color and b/w)
- Arctic Roll and Graph Game (in color and b/w)
- Picture and Word Cards of Arctic Animals(in color and b/w)
- Hungry Polar Bear Subtraction Game
- Feed the Beluga Counting Game
- Arctic Hare Shape Hop Board Game
- Spin and Fill Math 10 Frame Activity (in color and b/w)
- Snowy Owl Uppercase and Lowercase ABC Matching Activity (in color and b/w)
Originally published January 2016