Here’s how you can build a simple, sturdy sensory table for your toddler. These simple DIY water table plans are easy to build with a few simple tools.
Sensory tables are a great way for children to learn! The hands-on learning experience engages their senses and encourages exploration. And the best part is, you can easily build your own DIY sensory table with a few simple tools.
Let’s dive into everything you need to know to build your own simple and affordable sensory table and ideas to make it fun for your child.
What is a Sensory Table
A sensory table is a play table designed to provide children with a multi-sensory experience. It can be filled with various materials such as sand, water, or other small objects like beans, rice, or even foam balls.
The idea behind the sensory table is to engage a child’s senses including touch, sight, and sound. It also helps develop their fine motor skills and creativity.
Not only is it great for development and creativity, fill it with water and lets the kids have fun and stay cool in the summer at the same time.
A sand and water table is an outdoor toy that can keep children busy for hours! From sensory play to science projects to pretend-play, we used our plastic sensory tables to the fullest until a year ago!
What ages is a sensory table good for?
Sensory tables are incredibly beneficial and a lot of fun for almost all ages, even for adults. They are especially helpful for ages 0 to 6 years in terms of sensory development.
Sensory tables are a significant part of most preschool programs, but the Montessori method is specifically focused on the sensory development of children through the exploration of shapes, colors, textures, sounds, tastes, and smells.
Can you make your own sensory table?
Yes, you absolutely can! All you need is a bin (or two) for the sensory materials and a table for the children to use. The best way to make it easy to manage is to integrate the bins into the table.
Sensory tables can be made with wood or PVC pipes and fittings. Here we are building with wood. It is sturdy and looks great for a long time to come. With simple woodworking tools and skills, you can easily build a table in a couple of hours. Below are the complete step-by-step instructions and plans for you to build your own.
How to make your own Sensory Table
This sensory table is designed to have two bins. Two bins give you a whole bunch of material combinations to play with – sand and water, balls, pom poms, water beads, toys, and more!
You can also easily modify these plans to increase the number of bins.
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- Lumber per the plans
- Sterilite plastic bins. The table is designed for these storage boxes. Lids are available to close the bins when not in use. You can also use other bins and adjust the opening dimensions accordingly (like the Ikea Trofast bins).
- Circular saw / Miter Saw
- Kreg Jig. I used the Kreg 720. See which Kreg Jig is right for you.
- 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws
- Wood Glue
STEP 1: Prep the wood.
- Review the entire plan and make cuts per the cut list in the plans
- With the Kreg Jig at 3/4” setting, make pocket holes in the 1×3 boards.
- This is a great time to sand the boards as well.
STEP 2: Build the top frame
- Attach the long top aprons and the top short aprons as shown. The 1×2 divider is attached in the middle using wood glue and 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws.
STEP 3 – Build the leg frame
- Attach the long apron to two legs as shown below using 1 1/4” pocket hole screws and wood glue. Build TWO of these.
- Attach the two short aprons to one of the leg frames built in the above step. Use 1-1/4” pocket hole screws and wood glue.
- Attach the other leg frame to short aprons as shown below. Use 1-1/4” pocket hole screws and wood glue.
STEP 4: Attach table top
- Attach the frame built in the above step to the top built in step 3. The top has an overlay of 1” from each side. Attach using 1 1/4” pocket hole screws and wood glue.
- Attach the center divider support using 1-1/4” pocket hole screws and wood glue.
How to seal the water table
Once the table is built, it is important to seal it because it will be seeing lots of water and other messes.
The best way to seal it is using at least 3 coats of polyurethane. If you will be using the table outdoors, spar urethane is the best choice.
And that is it!
Drop the bins in and fill them with materials of your choice (or their choice) and watch them have fun!
The best part is that when they are done with the sensory bin, you can put a lid and store it away.
What can you use in the DIY Sensory Table
There are many types of materials and toys you can use in the tubs to let the kids have fun at the sensory table. Here are a few examples:
- foam balls
- plastic balls and water
- pom pom
- colorful rice (just use some food coloring)
- water beads
- moon sand
- cotton balls (color them in rainbow colors)
- dried leaves and flowers
- pieces of fabric
Be sure to give them some tongs, spoons, and scoops so they can practice their fine motor skills.
DIY Water Table Plans
If you are ready to build the water table, get the plans to build it below!
Don’t forget to stop by Brittany’s blog for all the building details and tips and the exact bins she used!
If you decide to build it, I’d love to see it! Feel free to email photos to me at email@example.com or tag me on Instagram @anikasdiylife and Brittany @brittanymerth for a chance to be featured on social media!
I can’t wait to see it!
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Anika's goal is to inspire and empower beginners with woodworking, DIY, home improvement, and home decor ideas.
She wants everyone to unlock their creative potential and experience the feeling that comes with making something. Nothing feels better better than seeing something and saying "I can make that!"