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Sensory tables (and sensory trays, for that matter), back in the olden days when I first started teaching, were something found only in a preschool classroom. But I’m happy to say that many people have sensory tables at home now, too.  A sensory table is one of my personal favorites, and if you don’t have one for the small children in your life, I strongly encourage you to get one!  With so many early learning benefits, combined with their endless appeal to children, they really are a must-have.

    Sensory Table Options

    Inexpensive under-the-bed storage containers can easily be attached to a low table temporarily using loops of duct tape. Or simply set the tub on the floor on top of a bed sheet or shower curtain (to catch the spills and dribbles). You can find super sturdy (super expensive!) and durable sensory tables at school supply stores like this, or this.  Those are great for group settings.  And Ikea is sort of famous for this version, which is perfect for a home.  But whichever way you go, the kids playing in a sensory table are going to benefit in so many ways…

    Why Sensory Tables?

    Besides being fun, soothing, and texturally interesting, sensory tables provide opportunities for tons of early learning.  Here are just some of the benefits of playing in one:

    • As kids share space and take turns with tools like cups, spoons, scoops and more, they’re learning to play cooperatively with others.  
    • As they explore lentils, cornmeal, dirt, rice, pasta, and water, kids can observe those materials to see how they compare and contrast.
    • Problem-solving skills develop as kids try to fit lids onto containers they have over-filled, or as they try to keep a collection of items from floating away in the table of water
    • Fine motor skills grow as the kids use tongs to scoop up shredded cellophane, or use tiny spoons to scoop cornmeal into small film canisters.  
    • Eye-hand coordination grows as they pour water into a tube…  The skills are as endless as the fun!

    Oh!  Here’s a freebie!

    If you don’t have a sensory table in your home or classroom, I hope I’ve been able to convince you to try one out!  And if you already have one, I hope some of the filler and tool ideas mentioned here have inspired some new sensory table ideas for you.  And if you’re looking for more ideas, click here for a free 2 page printable with lots more ideas!