Fun Letter Formation Activities for Kids | Sensory Tray Ideas

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Holly (Teach Starter)

Written by Holly (Teach Starter)

Teaching kids handwriting and correct letter formation is crucial, especially in the early year’s classroom. There is only so much pen to paper letter formation practice you can do until their little minds start to wander and get bored! Get them excited to practice their letter formations with this collection of super fun, and slightly messy letter formation activities for the classroom.

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These activities are best suited to children who are familiar with letters and the concept of print. With a focus on the lowercase letter to begin with, the idea is that these letter formation activity trays will consolidate children’s concept of how to form each of the letters of the alphabet.

They are also perfect activities to help students who may be reversing their letters. For more information about why students may reverse their letters read our blog, Why Students Reverse Letters | A Guide for Teachers (Mirror Writing).

Child reversing letters in writing

pticelov / Shutterstock.com


Fun Ways to Teach Letter Formation

By providing your students with a variety of opportunities to practice their letter formations you will be setting them up for success. The activities mentioned in this blog have been tried and tested by little hands themselves and have received the tick of approval for ‘messy’ fun that got lots of giggles!

Don’t you think a child’s giggle is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world?

little girl giggling

Kamira / Shutterstock.com

(1) Craft Sand Tray Activity

This sensory activity has an added element of vibrancy with the colored paper stuck to the tray before the craft sand was poured in!

What you need to create this letter formation activity tray:

  • wooden tray
  • bright colored paper
  • scissors
  • glue
  • craft feather (optional)
  • plastic bead (option)
  • craft sand (white or colored).

If you cant find a wooden tray like this one, you can also use a baking sheet or anything that has sides to create the same activity. Repurpose things that you already have!

Sand tray letter formation activity

Utilize our collection of letter formation posters for guidance for your students during these hands-on activities.

(2) Shaving Cream Activity

Have you ever played with shaving cream? It’s strangely satisfying and kids love getting their hands messy!

This activity is probably one of the cheapest and easiest activities featured in this blog – but, it’s probably the messiest!

All you really need is a can of shaving cream and a desk or a tray to spray it on and you’re done!

Shaving foam letter formation activity

(3) Squishy Bags

If you are looking for something with the same effect but a little less messy – squishy bags are for you! These can even be used for children who are at the pre-writing stage to practice different shapes and develop their fine motor skills.

How to make squishy bags?

There are many different ways that you can create these squishy bags. We used a mixture of flour, water, and fluro paint (available at most craft stores) for ours.

What you need:

  • zip lock bags
  • flour
  • water
  • paint
  • heavy-duty packing tape or duct tape.

squishy bags for letter formation activity

Steps

  1. Combine together 2.5 fluid ounces of flour and 1.75 fluid ounces of water and give it a good mix.
  2. Add a few drops of colored paint or food coloring and mix.
  3. Spoon the mixture into a ziplock bag.
  4. Slowly flatten the mixture in the ziplock bag ensuring as much of the air is pushed out as possible before closing the top.
  5. Place heavy-duty packing tape, or duct tape, along the top to secure the opening.

(4) Mini Blackboard Activity

Kids love to write on small blackboards and whiteboards. Take advantage of this interest by getting them to practice their letter formations.

Have students use chalk to practice writing a letter and then get them to use a paintbrush dipped in water to erase the letter again!

mini blackboard letter formation activity

Tip: Take this activity outside with some sidewalk chalk instead.

Utilize our collection of letter formation posters for guidance for your students during these hands-on activities.

For more general alphabet activities, check out our blog, The Alphabet Activity You’ll Want to Get Your Hands On.

Share your favorite letter formation activities with us in this blog. Alternatively, tag us @teachstarter_texas on Instagram.

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