3 Ways to Use a Sensory Table

This post first appeared on Teacher Types which you can read here. A big thank you to Lauren for allowing me to republish it!

At the beginning of the year we made our very own sensory table out of pvc pipes and a plastic storage container. It was quite simple to make and has been one of the best things we have done. It is used almost daily by our 2 year old who loves to play with it along with all our little visitors too. If you would like to make your own you can see our instructions here.

Splashing water in a sensory table

After filling the container so many times I have found that there are 3 main things we use it for; water play, sensory play and small world play. Today I am going to share with you some of the ways we have used it in each of these categories. Most of the time we use the box on the stand, but sometimes we put the box on the floor too depending on what we are playing with.

Water Play

Water play in sensory table

The easiest way to make water play fun and exciting is to add food colouring to it. The water alone is generally enough to keep Master R busy but by adding the colour it becomes that little bit more special. We have also added these things to the water:

- cups, containers and watering cans to encourage pouring
- flowers, sticks, pebbles and herbs to make a 'nature soup'
- chalk so that it gets nice and wet for wet chalk drawings
- bubble bath or dishwashing liquid to make it bubbly
- bath toys which become exciting just because they are not in the bathroom
- paintbrushes to make water paintings
- water balloons which are fun to float, splash with and throw

Sensory Play

Sensory play in sensory table

A sensory table is perfect for sensory play, it is named for it after all! Having the sensory materials confined to the box helps to contain the mess and being able to have the box up on the stand can allow kids to stay active and move their bodies whilst exploring what's inside. Some of our favourite sensory play creations in our table have been:

- rainbow rice and playdough, a fun combination of two great materials
- sand to create a mini sand pit before we got our big sandpit
- water beads with cups and spoons
- shaving cream and toy cars
- gloop (a mixture of corn flour and water)

Small World Play

Small world play in sensory table

Small world play is an exciting new adventure at our house. Master R has just turned 2 and is beginning to enjoy imaginary play. So far we have created two small worlds which have been thoroughly enjoyed.

For our insect small world we used small plastic insects, leaves and sticks from our garden and a small container with water as a pond. Master R's favourite thing to do with the insects was to play hide and seek with them under the leaves.

The farm small world that we created used medium sized plastic farm animals, green painted newspaper cut up for the grass, blue playdough for drinking water, dried beans for food and a barn made using an ice cream container, cardboard rolls and red paper. We played with this small world inside which is why I choose easy to clean up materials. Having the animals 'drink the water' and get playdough on their noses proved hilarious for Master R!

I love Lauren's 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt' small world to follow along with the book. I look forward to creating it one day and love the way she brings the book to life in such a simple way! She has also created a beach themed small world for fun imaginary play.

If you don't yet have an area or table for these types of play at your house I suggest you make one fast! These ideas take very little time to prepare and they entertain kids for ages. Each of them lasted a good couple of days before they were changed for something new and going back and repeating old ideas works well too.

Have fun playing!




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