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We Built A Sensory Table. Now What?

With a sensory table, play possibilities are endless. Let your imagination be your guide. Consider both dry and wet experiences, what’s available, and how much time you have for “setting the scene.” Start out simple and observe the children at play. Trust them to know what to do and to let you know when they’re ready for new sensory play experiences.

Sand is a must. So is water. Both provide hours of open-ended play and learning. Start by putting out containers of different shapes and sizes. Add scoops and spoons, both solid and slotted, sieves, sifters, shakers, and pitchers, funnels, measuring cups and spoons. This is a time for adaptive use of both kitchen implements and toys. When used in sand play, stacking and nesting cups invite filling and pouring and can be used as sand molds.The cups demonstrate differences in volume and mass among the graduated cups. Basic mathematical concepts.

For water play, tea sets encourage pouring. Learning to pour liquids without spilling is a challenge requiring concentration and coordination, fundamental skills needed for developing more complex ones. Being able to pour without spilling gives a child independence: the ability to pour himself something to drink when he’s thirsty. When offering someone else a drink, he’s demonstrating social awareness. Learning to estimate how much liquid is in a pitcher and figuring out how to divide the contents evenly among glasses develops mathematical awareness. Without question, children learn while playing.


 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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Creating Space for Outdoor Play

I remember my mother telling us to “go outside and play”? Seems few mothers say that now. The world is ever changing and our children do not enjoy the freedom to roam that my generation enjoyed. That means we adults have to create opportunities for unstructured, open-ended play outdoors. When an enclosed yard is available, we can create play space by digging out and filling an area with sand. Or we can add a sand and water table, also called a sensory table.

Although expensive to purchase, do-it-yourself options range from simple, easy-to-build one constructed of PVC pipe and a single storage container to one with overhead piping for funnels and a down spout. Deonna Wade of the Child at Heart used cut-outs and plastic tubs to repurpose a coffee table. That’s an idea could save time and money too. For those with woodworking experience – or the desire to learn – the possibilities range from budget friendly to “the sky’s the limit.”

We built one 37 years ago from wood with three cut-outs in the top for plastic dish pans and a storage shelf below for “play props”. Including our two year old in the building and painting, albeit messy, made the project a fun play and learn experience for everyone.

Need inspiration? Step-by-step instructions? Start here…

30 minute sensory table$30 – 30 minute DO-IT-YOURSELF SENSORY TABLE


pvc sand & water tablePVC SAND & WATER TABLE


Sensory TableDIY Sand & Water Table


DIY Custom Water Table

 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play