Note: This post contains affiliate links. You may read my disclosure here.

This school year is starting off differently for us than previous years. My son is doing virtual learning with his elementary school, and I am homeschooling my preschool-aged daughter. So for our STEAM activities, I’ve been looking for simple activities that can be used to as part of my daughter’s preschool curriculum. This salt painting activity perfectly fits the bill!

This is so simple, and you can tailor it to what you want to focus on for learning. Right now my daughter is working on learning letters, so we focused on writing letters for our salt painting. But you could also focus on drawing shapes, writing numbers, sight words, math sentences (2+2=4), draw subitizing dots (like dots on a dice), or get creative with artistic drawings.


  • Paper (thicker papers like card stock or watercolor paper work best)
  • Glue
  • Salt
  • Food coloring
  • Water
  • Dropper
  • Pencil
  • Plate or large pan (to collect excess salt)


  1. Use your pencil to draw an image on the paper. Some examples are shapes, letters, numbers, sight words, number sentences, or simple drawings.
Started as the letter A and became a space ship
Drawing of a tree
The letter A

2. Trace over the pencil lines with glue.

Tracing the lines is harder than it looks!
This is great fine motor skill practice
Tracing the letter C

3. Place the drawing on a plate or pan to catch the extra salt, then sprinkle salt over the glue, making sure it is completely covered.

This starts off well…
Oops! This is why you want to put a pan underneath when you add the salt.
This is how much salt you want over the glue.

4. Shake off the excess salt then salt, then set aside to let dry completely.

Let the salt fall off the paper into the pan below

5. Make your paint using 3-5 drops food coloring and a few tablespoons of water.

Start with a few drops of food coloring…
Add water and stir to make watercolor paint

6. Use the dropper to color the salt drawings. The kids will be surprised that even if they don’t drop the liquid right on the salt, it will be pulled to the salt.

Fill the dropper with colored water

7. Keep using the dropper to add color until your painting is finished.

She kept experimenting until she found the limit when the salt would no longer absorb the liquid.


  • Science: Salt is a hygroscopic ionic compound that is strongly attracted to and absorbs polar water. Being hygroscopic means salt can absorb water from liquid or vapor in humid air. The salt quickly attracts and absorbs the water before it can touch the paper, allowing the water to color only the salt lines (as long as they drop the water close to the salt lines).
  • Engineering: This is a great way to work on developing fine motor skills with young kids. Tracing with glue and sprinkling the salt are not easy to do for young kids. They will develop the skills and attention to detail that is necessary in future STEM careers, such as engineering.
  • Art: Let your kids test their drawing skills. Practice shapes, lines, or more complicated items, like my son’s tree. They are also learning about colors. You can make primary colors and the kids can allow two primary colors to touch on the salt paintings to make a secondary color.

My kids had so much fun with this activity! They practiced their writing and drawing skills. They worked on developing their fine motor tracing skills. They made messes with the salt. They played with color. They learned how salt attracts water. They were busy for several hours working on this project. They created artwork that they are proud to display in their rooms. I’d say all around this was a near perfect STEAM activity for kids!

My daughter’s Salt Paintings
My son’s Salt Paintings

I highly recommend trying this at home with your kids. The material list seems long, but I bet you already have all of these things at home (I linked to similar droppers to ours on Amazon in the materials list, in case you need droppers). You and your kids will have a blast, and hopefully they’ll learn something too! Let me know in the comments if you try this fun activity.


Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click on a product link I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you. I only link to products and pages I personally use and highly recommend. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support!

You have Successfully Subscribed!