Sand trays are now an essential part of many early childhood classrooms, but while the rough texture is great for creating gross motor memory of letter shapes, the texture can be more than unpleasant for sensitive students. This Slime in a Bag Letter Tracing Activity is a great alternative for little fingers and is a great way to extend your play after making slime!
I’m a Montessori-trained teacher and the sand tray works hand-in-hand with sandpaper letters. The principle behind them is that children don’t learn how to write by visually memorizing letter shapes, but rather from creating gross motor memory. Children first trace the sandpaper letter and then replicate the shape in a sand tray – keeping the texture consistent.
However, not only can the sand get a bit messy, it’s unpleasant for many children. I’ve seen alternatives that use food items such as corn meal, but many schools have restrictions on using food items in the classroom. I wanted to come up with an alternative that still incorporates that sensory element to promote gross motor memory, while being gentle on sensitive fingers.
We love playing with slime – check out some of our favorite slime recipes and ways to play here – so it only made sense to save some from our most recent batch to make Slime in a Bag!
How to Make Slime
Because of the components of slime, every time you make it the increments will be slightly different. Here is the base recipe – adjust it based on how you see the materials responding.
The first time you make slime it will take a bit longer as you experiment to see how much kneading it takes and as you experiment a bit with the consistency. It will get faster and easier the more you make it!
- 1/2 cup school glue (white or clear)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup Liquid Starch
- Glitter, optional,, but makes it fun!
- Food coloring, optional
Mix together the glue and water until fully combined. Add the starch a little bit at a time, working in each addition until a solid, non-sticky mass forms.
The final product should be stretchy, not sticky and not stringy. Add glitter or food coloring as desired.
(Pro tip: vinegar will dissolve slime from any hair or fabric it may come into contact with.)
After having some fun playing with your slime, place 2 cups in a freezer bag (they tend to have the most secure seal). You can also tape your bag to a surface, like a kitchen tray, but we didn’t find that necessary.
Trace letters in the slime – you can either use printable letter cards (written on note cards works too!) on the side, or place them under the bag for a guide.
We use two fingers to trace letters because it helps translate directly to holding a writing tool later on and prevents children from tracing with just their finger – with two fingers they tend to move their whole hand.
In between each letter, squish the bag to fill back in the space created by the letter and then trace again!
What do you think? Would you use slime in a bag as an alternative to a sand letter tray?
More Sensory Fun
Looking for more fun ways to learn through sensory play? Here are some of our favorites!