Enjoy some playful maths activities with this salt tray and gem pattern making provocation! So simple and low cost, with plenty of opportunities for extending the learning and being creative too!
I set out an Invitation to Play and create with two simple materials; fine salt and flat, colourful, glass gems. I found these beautiful gems on Amazon and they have already loved playing with them lots of times as they’re highly tactile and so brightly coloured. They will be great for many open-ended play and learning activities. The tray is a party platter from the supermarket (and we use it for lots of sorting activities!)
Miss 6 used the tray to make simple lines of repeating patterns as she is very into pattern making at the moment. We then talked about symmetrical patterns and she made some using a vertical line of symmetry, while we practised language such as rotation and mirror images.
There were plenty of opportunities for talking about how many shapes we could find and if there were mrs of one colour or another in the mixture. This could be a nice jump off point for counting in groups of numbers, adding small amounts together or copying simple patterns in rows below (to name just a few possibilities!)
Miss 2 loved the tactile nature of the materials and spent time raking her fingertips through the surface of the salt and creating marks and patterns. She moved the gems one by one into the tray and enjoyed putting them into the salt and picking them out again.
We will be getting these out again to use in various play provocations and sensory play trays, as well as using them for a loose material for coining and sorting in a maths area.
What they are learning as they play:
maths: counting using 1:1 correspondence, sorting by one criteria, making simple repeating patterns, creating symmetrical patterns, mathematical vocabulary
physical: fine motor skills and coordination, pincer grasp, transferring
creativity: making pictures and patterns
See all of our other Playful and Creative Maths ideas here.
See our many other uses for Sensory Salt trays here.
[This post contains an Amazon affiliate link for your convenience.]