DIY Sensory Table + Play Ideas!


I worked in a preschool for three years and then with kiddos on the autism spectrum for three years before I had my own children.  There were sensory tables EVERYWHERE, and they were always so much fun and a hit with the littles.  When my firstborn turned one, I told my husband we needed to get one.  He, of course, had no clue what I was talking about so I pulled up trusty old Google to show him and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the prices.  Those suckers aren’t cheap!  I did some digging for a used one and sorted through several DIY options. We were skeptical at first, but settled on this gem!  It’s cheap, and it was SUPER easy and quick to put together.  We have since made three others to give as gifts – it’s that easy!  We love how lightweight it is and that we can store all of it back in the plastic tub if needed.  We are still using and loving it after 3.5 years and adding two more kids into the play.

Now, what to put in it!  I have a whole Pinterest board full of sensory table ideas.  Some I have done, others I have high hopes to pull together someday, but who knows if that’ll happen.  Can anyone else relate to that?  Here are some of the favorites in our home!

  • Simple water or snow play.  Put some play dishes and soap in there with the water or add some paint, food coloring and some sprinkles to the snow!
  • Use a hole punch to punch out holes in toilet paper tubes.  Cut straws to different lengths and throw some pipe cleaners in – then watch their imaginations run wild!
  • We had a bug scavenger hunt going on in ours for months.  Little plastic bugs buried in dried beans.  The kids would search for them, and we’d practice naming colors and counting and deciding which bugs were bigger and smaller.
  • Place different colored containers in the table and scatter coordinating colored pom poms all around.  Give the child a clothespin, spoon or plastic tweezers to practice fine motor skills while sorting pom poms into their matching containers.
  • Fill the table with ice, pour some paint over the ice cubes and let your kids paint away.  You can check back on it throughout the day to see how it is melting, and then enjoy water play later in the day!

Here are some other popular sensory table filler ideas.  Throw in some cups and lids and you’ll be amazed at what they come up with! And of course, use your discretion based on the ages of your kids!

  • Feathers
  • Rocks
  • Colored gems
  • Corn kernels
  • Buttons
  • Dirt
  • Easter “grass”
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Cotton balls
  • Dried pasta
  • Beads

We just love this table that we were able to make without breaking the bank and are thankful to be able to pull it out to mix things up once in a while!  What sensory activities are favorites in your home?


Comments are closed.