Mark making is an important activity for toddlers. It lets them practise the skills they will need for writing in the future. Mark making can be done with all sorts of different materials – not just pens and paper! It helps develop fine motor skills, lets children express themselves and can be lots of fun!
Coloured salt is good for mark making as the texture and colour of the salt provide an interesting sensory experience. Children make their own marks with their fingers, or with different objects. Plastic cutlery, wooden spoons and even paintbrushes work well too.
This activity is very easy to prepare and is very thrifty too! You only need salt and food colouring, and if you don’t already have these at home you can buy them for less than £1.
How To Make Coloured Salt:
Empty your salt into a bowl or freezer bag. Add your food colouring a few drops at a time. Give it a good mix or shake it up in the bag. As the food colouring hits the salt, it will be soaked up. So you really need to give it a good mix to make sure it separates and spreads evenly and all the salt gets covered. Keep adding more drops to get the colour you want.
The more food colouring you add, the longer your salt will take to dry. If you just use a few drops, your salt should be ready within an hour and it will still feel just like salt.
If you want a brighter colour, you’ll obviously need a lot more food colouring and it will need to dry for several hours or overnight. If you use a lot of food colouring like I did, it will give the salt a different texture. Ours felt just like slightly damp sand, which was great because we could pile it up and build it into shapes.
I set the coloured salt out in our tuff tray and added some plastic scrapers. Then I let Ollie investigate. He spent quite a while scooping the salt up in his hands and sprinkling it back into the tray.
He liked making handprints in the salt and making tracks with his fingers. We used the scrapers to draw some patterns and flatten the salt back out to start all over again.
Ollie is just starting to recognise numbers so I used this as an opportunity to practise them with him. I drew numbers in the salt and he told me what they were. He’s too young to write yet, but this would be a fun way for older children to practice their letters or numbers.