Using a sand tray with your preschoolers is a great way to get them mark-making and practicing letter formation.

This dinosaur sand tray uses our Dinosaur Alphabet cards to help your preschoolers form their letters.

We’ve used it regularly as part of our Dinosaur Weeks with our toddlers and preschoolers and have it set up to use whenever they want.

So here you go a very simple Dinosaur Themed Sand Tray for Mark Making and Letter Formation practice with preschoolers.

Dinosaur Alphabet Cards

Our dinosaur alphabet cards feature a fun dinosaur character with upper and lower case letters on the body.

dinosaur sand tray invitation to write and mark make

We’ve done them in easy print for your little ones to be able to see the way that the letter is formed when they are learning to write.

The complete set of upper and lower case is available in our store along with some other dinosaur print, play and learn activities for you and your tots to do together.

Printable Dinosaur Games and Activities Now Available in the Rainy Day Mum Store

Using a Sand Tray for Mark-Making And Learning to Write

We have included affiliate links to some of the products and resources as an associate we may earn from qualifying purchases.

Sand trays are an easy prep activity for you and your little one to do to practice mark making.

We have a set of trays that we use and some bottles of coloured sand. This makes setting up the activities quick.

Simply pour the sand into the tray.

using the end of a pencil to write in the sand tray

Provide some mark-marking equipment and then a visual for them to use to copy in the sand.

What to use to Make Marks

It’s good to provide a variety of different tools to make the marks in the sand when your child is doing this.

We’ve used

fingers one of the best tools for mark making in a sand tray with toddlers and preschoolers
  • fingers
  • paintbrushes
  • feathers
  • dinosaur tails
  • pens
  • pencils
  • skewers
  • sticks
writing with a pencil in a sand tray

What to fill the sand tray with

As I mentioned above we use coloured sand at home with our toddler and preschooler this is because it’s readily available (we have it for crafting) and can use it time and time again just pour it back into the bottle.

However, you could also use

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Cornflour
  • Shaving Cream
  • Hair Gel

Anything that your child can make a mark in and it stays for a while.

dinosaur alphabet cards and sand tray

What Order to Teach the letters in with the sand trays?

There are lots of different theories in the order that the alphabet should be taught.

At home and in the classroom I’ve always followed the phonics curriculum that is popular in UK schools. Letters and Sounds.

This introduces the letters in an order that helps build reading success for the majority of the children instead of in alphabetical order.

So we start off with S A T P and move on through the letters.

Whilst working on the letter formation we also do activities that focus on building knowledge of the letter sounds and names of the letters. Like our Farm Beginning Sounds Activity.

dinosaur letter cards and sand tray activity for preschoolers

Dinosaur Alphabet Sand Tray for Writing Practice with Preschoolers

Trisha Stanley
A simple low prep dinosaur themed sand tray with upper and lowercase printable dinosaur alphabet cards to work on letter formation with toddlers and preschoolers.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 2 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 12 mins

Equipment Needed

  • Small Tray
  • Scissors
  • Optional Laminator

Materials Needed
  

Instructions
 

Prep Needed:

  • Download and print out the dinosaur alphabet cards. Cut into individual cards. Optional – laminate this will make them hard wearing and easy to use time and time again (bonus is that your preschooler can then use them to write over and trace the letters with a dry wipe marker!)
  • Fill the shallow tray with the coloured sand.
  • Pick out the letters that you are working on with your preschooler and place beside and above the salt try.
  • You can theme it a little if you wish with dinosaur figures and toys or keep simple like we have.

Using the Dinosaur Sand Tray with your Preschooler

  • Invite your preschooler to the activity.
  • Show them how to make the marks in the sand.
  • Review with them the different letters and supervise them making the marks.
Keyword Preschool Activities, Preschool Learning
Have you Made This?Let us know how it went!

using a finger to make letters in a sand tray

More Sand Trays to Use with Preschoolers

Toddler and Preschool Sand Writing Tray inspired by Dragon Dance
Extension activity for the book Pinkalicious by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann with this Pinkalicious Sand Tray ideal for pre-writing practice in preschool.
sugar plum fairy salt tray

More Dinosaur Themed Preschool Activities

FREE Printable Dinosaur Letter Game on Rainy Day Mum
Simple to set up sorting activity for toddlers and preschoolers with toy dinosaurs that focuses on how they stand and walk.
Ideas for quick and easy questions to as for some preschool Dinosaur Maths ideal when playing with children at home or in a classroom setting.
dinosaur abc and sand tray activity for preschoolers
Author
Trisha Stanley

Trisha is an educator with a passion for science literacy and mom to Aiden, Lily, and Elon.

She’s the creator of Inspiration Laboratories, a blog dedicated to encouraging learning through creativity and play.

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