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I had thought about putting together a sensory table for my kids for ages, but the “real” ones are expensive. When Anna’s pediatrician suggested that Anna’s strange way of moving might be a sensory issue, I decided it was time to make a sensory table!
Putting Together a Sensory Station at Home
The easiest way to make a sensory station is to take a plastic storage bin and place it on the floor, but I wanted something that would encourage Anna to stand. Tables are also easier for multiple kids to play around, in my experience. I did some research and settled on this Step2 Naturally Playful Sand Table. You can’t drain the water, but you can dump it out fairly easily (the table doesn’t weigh much), and it has a cover that you can fasten on with elastic bands – nice if you are having little friends over who are likely to put the contents in their mouths. It fits through standard doorways, so you can move it around the house as needed without having to remove all the contents. We put different things in it all the time –sometimes it doubles as our LEGO table! The bucket and other toys featured in that top photo all came with the table, which was a nice!
Pom Poms and Pony Beads are some of the more popular things to put in! We did some fun experimenting with weighing pom poms and pony beads. You need only a few pony beads to balance out a bucket full of pom poms! We have also used Perler Beads, although they apparently didn’t make it into my pictures!
This beach setup with colored sand, a few shells, Florist Marbles, and a couple measuring cups was also very popular. We use Craft Sand, and four-year-old Lily likes to swap out the colors! We use a small play dustpan to sweep it up, and a funnel to put it back into the container for next time.
Four-year-old Lily uses the sand table for a lot of dramatic play. In the photo above she is making pumpkin cupcakes! She also likes to bring our small plastic animals and squinkies into the bin to play.
I’ve added chopsticks a few times, and Lily likes to use them to write letters in the sand. She also uses them to pick up pom poms!
Right now we have our sensory table full of soft things – pom poms, feathers, and felt letters. We’ll probably add some fabric scraps in, later today.
My preschooler and toddler are the main kids who use this table, but sometimes my “big kids” – six-year-old Johnny and seven-year-old Emma – join in also. I love that!
Here you can see a quick clip of Anna and Lily using the table. You can tell in the beginning that Anna was leaning on the table – not the best way to support herself! Her physical therapist suggested putting the table next to the couch, with only a small space for her to stand (but not lean) between the couch and the table. That worked beautifully!
We store our sensory materials in little clear bins (the sand goes back into the containers it came in), and the lovely plastic containers that the delicious but pricey Talenti ice cream comes in. Being able to re-use the containers helps justify that splurge!
I should add, Anna is getting better and better at standing and even walking a little bit! I think the table has been a huge help, maybe through providing the sensory stimulation she needed, but also by distracting her while she works on getting stronger!
Do you have a sensory table? What do you think we should put in ours next?