sensory table diy

DIY Sensory Table for Kids for Hours of Fun

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Sensory tables are great for kids’ development and typically keep kids busy for a while which is AMAZING!! We wanted a sensory table for our boys but new ones were hundreds of dollars, so we decided to make our own!


Why a Sensory Table?

Sensory exploration is very important for kids’ development and a lot of fun! Kids learn with all 5 of their senses, including touch!! A sensory table allows kids to explore different textures, shapes, and more primarily through touch but also through their other senses. Using a sensory table helps kids develop fine motor skills and cognitive skills.


What to Put in a Sensory Table?

There are so many options of what to use in a sensory table! Our kids love water, soap and water to ‘clean’ dinosaurs, etc., Kinetic Sand, Water Beads, Play Doh, Colored Rice, Construction Vehicles, and Pom Poms, most of which are below other than the soap and water. Ha!

Kinetic Sand

Kinetic sand is so fun to play with!! There are so many different colors and sets of kinetic sand that the possibilities are truly endless!

Kinetic Sand Mold n’ Flow, 1.5lbs Red and Teal Play Sand, 3 Tools Sensory Toys, Stocking Stuffers & Christmas Gifts for Kids Ages 3+
Kinetic Sand Mold n’ Flow, 1.5lbs Red and Teal Play Sand, 3 Tools Sensory Toys, Stocking Stuffers & Christmas Gifts for Kids Ages 3+
by Spin Master
  • ONE & ONLY KINETIC SAND: Kinetic Sand magically sticks together, making it easy for kids to shape and mold their creations without the mess. Plus, it never dries out for endless hours of fun and sensory play!
  • 1.5LBS KINETIC SAND & 3 TOOLS: Use your Red & Teal Kinetic Sand and included tools to create mesmerizing sand effects! Experiment with the dome, cutter and scoop as you spark creativity!
  • REUSABLE STORAGE: The Kinetic Sand Mold n’ Flow set includes a resealable storage bag, allowing kids to pack up their sand when they’re done playing
  • SPARK CREATIVITY: Unlock your imagination and boost fine motor skills through tactile sensory play as kids mold and shape! Made from natural sand and magically sticks together for easy clean up!
  • GIVE THE GIFT OF KINETIC SAND: Kinetic Sand toys are creative gift ideas for kids Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers for kids! Alternative to kids crafts, a slime kit, modeling clay and fidget toys.
  • Includes: 1.5lbs Kinetic Sand, 1 Dome, 1 Cutting Tool, 1 Scoop
  • Covered by the Spin Master Care Commitment. See below for full details
List Price: $ 9.99 You Save: $ 5.04 (-50%)  Price: $ 4.95 Buy now at Amazon
Kinetic Sand, The Original Moldable Play Sand, 3.25lbs Beach Sand, Sensory Toys, Holiday & Christmas Gifts for Kids Ages 3+ (Amazon Exclusive)
Kinetic Sand, The Original Moldable Play Sand, 3.25lbs Beach Sand, Sensory Toys, Holiday & Christmas Gifts for Kids Ages 3+ (Amazon Exclusive)
by Spin Master

3.25LBS KINETIC BEACH SAND: This Amazon exclusive sensory sand is 98% sand & 2% magic! Pull it, shape it & mold it to create incredible sand art. Kinetic Sand sticks to itself & not to kids so it can be easily cleaned up & stored!
MESS-FREE SENSORY FUN: A great addition to your child’s sensory bin. Made with larger grains of natural sand, this magic sand flows through fingers like real beach sand and leaves them completely dry.

 Price: $ 14.99 Buy now at Amazon

Water Beads

Water Beads are so fun as they start out small and grow when soaked in water. It’s a small container but they get significantly bigger when soaked in water. We haven’t even used half of the tiny container yet or our three boys and their sensory bins.

Be sure that your kids know not to put them in their mouths.

**Note: Water Beads have been pulled from some retailers at this time due to growing safety concerns of kids swallowing them.

ELONGDI Water Beads Pack Rainbow Mix 50,000 Beads Growing Balls, Jelly Water Gel Beads for Spa Refill, Kids Sensory Toys, Vases, Plant, Wedding and Home Decor
ELONGDI Water Beads Pack Rainbow Mix 50,000 Beads Growing Balls, Jelly Water Gel Beads for Spa Refill, Kids Sensory Toys, Vases, Plant, Wedding and Home Decor
by Elongdi
  • Made only with non-toxic materials for safety of children and environment
  • Bright Colorful Jelly beads expand to 9-12mm and soft to grab
  • Helps kids with color recognition, counting & fine motor skill
  • Not only suitable for kids also adults. Ideal for centerpieces, any floral design, weddings, home or plant decoration, vase filler, showers parties etc
List Price: $ 13.99 You Save: $ 5.00 (-36%)  Price: $ 8.99 Buy now at Amazon

Play Doh

Play-Doh is always fun to play and create with. There are so many awesome sets, accessories, and ways to play with Play-Doh!

Play-Doh Bulk Winter Colors 12-Pack of Non-Toxic Modeling Compound, 4-Ounce Cans
Play-Doh Bulk Winter Colors 12-Pack of Non-Toxic Modeling Compound, 4-Ounce Cans
by Hasbro
  • WINTER WONDERS: This festive winter Play-Doh collection is ready for winter holiday-themed arts and crafts for kids! Let their creativity shine with 9 beautiful colors
  • BULK PLAY-DOH CANS: This Play-Doh 12-pack includes large Play-Doh cans with 4 ounces in each can, including orange, purple, light green, blue, black, light blue, 2 cans of white, 2 cans of forest green, and 2 cans of red. Contains wheat
  • CREATIVE TOYS FOR KIDS: Boys and girls 2 years and up can create colorful trees, silly Play-Doh treats, adorable snowmen, and more winter-themed creations with this Play-Doh bulk set
  • FUN GIFT FOR KIDS: Play-Doh 4 oz sets make great holiday gifts for kids who love art supplies like modeling clay. Also makes a great playdate activity, classroom activity, or refill set for Play-Doh playsets
  • SUSTAINABLE PACKAGING: Ships in simple, recyclable packaging that'​​​​​​​s easy to open and frustration free
 Price: $ 13.99 Buy now at Amazon
Play-Doh Sparkle and Scents Variety Pack of 16 Cans of Modeling Compound and 4 Tools, Arts and Crafts Toy for Kids 3 and Up, Non-Toxic
Play-Doh Sparkle and Scents Variety Pack of 16 Cans of Modeling Compound and 4 Tools, Arts and Crafts Toy for Kids 3 and Up, Non-Toxic
by Hasbro
  • 16 CANS OF IMAGINATION: With 2-ounce cans of Scents, Sparkle, and classic modeling compound plus 4 cool tools, this Play-Doh set for kids 3 and up is sure to spark their creativity. Contains wheat
  • 6 SCENTED DUAL-COLOR CANS: With 2 fun colors in each can, kids can make their Play-Doh creations smell like vanilla cupcake, hot chocolate, cotton candy, blueberry blast, cherry, and banana
  • 6 CANS OF SPARKLE: 6 sparkly colors make it easy to add shimmer and shine with colors that include orange, purple, green, blue, and 2 different reds
  • 4 CLASSIC PLAY-DOH COLORS: Add even more fun to playtime with 4 cans of classic Play-Doh compound! Colors include coral, lime, blue, and purple
  • MAKES A GREAT GIFT: The variety of modeling compound in this pack makes it awesome for arts and crafts activities and playdates. It's great as a Play-Doh refill, or as a birthday present or holiday gift
 Price: $ 11.99 Buy now at Amazon

Colored Rice

Colored rice is a fun sensory play activity kids can run their hands through, write letters in with their fingers, and so much more.

ROYLCO Colored Rice, 6 Bright Colors, 6 1lb bags, Sensory Learning, Color Perception, Non-toxic, Ages 4+, Made in the USA, Bright Colors, Easy & Fun
ROYLCO Colored Rice, 6 Bright Colors, 6 1lb bags, Sensory Learning, Color Perception, Non-toxic, Ages 4+, Made in the USA, Bright Colors, Easy & Fun
by Roylco, Inc
  • SENSORY LEARNING: Children can feel 1, 2, or hundreds of pieces of rice at a time and observe how the senses differ.
  • PATTERNING & SEQUENCING: Use colors and numbers to create and mimic brilliant patterns on any surface!
  • VISUAL PERCEPTION SKILLS: 6 colors capture visual interest and create numerous projects that attract attention and curiosity.
  • INCLUDES: 6 1lb bags of colored rice, 1 bag of each color.
  • Made in the USA
 Price: $ 35.49 Buy now at Amazon
Roylco Colored Rice, 1 Lb. Box
Roylco Colored Rice, 1 Lb. Box
by Roylco Inc
  • Adheres to glue shapes
  • Easier cleanup than glitter
  • Great for arts and crafts projects for all ages
  • Ideal for sensory tables and sensory play
  • Non-Toxic, and Made in the USA
 Price: $ 12.58 Buy now at Amazon

Construction Vehicles

Construction vehicles are fun to use with Kinetic sand, water beads, Play-Doh, and colored rice. We have a set that we keep with the sensory table toys so sand doesn’t get all over the house.

TOY Life 28 PCS Construction Toys Construction Cake Topper, Small Construction Vehicles, Sandbox Toys for Boys, Small Construction Car Truck Excavator Toys Construction Party Favors Gifts for Boys
TOY Life 28 PCS Construction Toys Construction Cake Topper, Small Construction Vehicles, Sandbox Toys for Boys, Small Construction Car Truck Excavator Toys Construction Party Favors Gifts for Boys
by TOY Life
  • 🎂 Birthday Party Cake Topper, Decoration: You can use these construction cake decorations vehicles and set as construction party supplies favors or as construction cake toppe、Stocking Stuffer ! Then the kids will have a blast playing with tractor toys.
  • 🚓 High Quality Indoor & Outdoor Sandbox Toys: These small construction toys are made to withstand weather and dirt associated with the rough and tough life of your child's sandbox toys, just like the real construction truck toys.
  • 🏗️ Learn About Transportation: We included pretend play mini construction vehicles toys signs so that your little one can use their imagination, keeping them entertained for hours with. And the toys size is great hand on for your childs. What will they build with their mini construction toys?
  • 🎁 The Perfect Gift : These toy construction trucks are in the Holiday Toy Gift Guide as "the perfect construction truck toys for 3-5 year old boys." But they will be favorites of children that are 4 5 6 and 7 as well. Ideal Christmas Birthadt Gift for 3 4 5 6 7 years old kids.
  • 📑 Toy Life 12 Month Guarantee: Buy with confidence. If anything happens to your small construction vehicles toys within the first 12 months of owning them, we will replace it at no charge to you. Just message us through the Amazon platform. At Toy Life customer satisfaction is our top priority.
List Price: $ 19.97 You Save: $ 8.00 (-40%)  Price: $ 11.97 Buy now at Amazon

Pom Poms and Accessories

Pom Poms are another great addition for a sensory table! There are so many things you can do with them, including what’s in this kit to help with fine motor skills.

142 Pieces Fine Motor Skills Handy Scooper Set Sensory Bin Filler Includes 12 Sorting Bowls, 8 Tweezers, 2 Scissors Clips, 120 Plush Balls for Early Education and Sorting Counting Training Development
142 Pieces Fine Motor Skills Handy Scooper Set Sensory Bin Filler Includes 12 Sorting Bowls, 8 Tweezers, 2 Scissors Clips, 120 Plush Balls for Early Education and Sorting Counting Training Development
by Zhanmai
  • Quality and Reliable Material: this motor skill games set uses quality material; The color wool ball is made of quality polyester material, soft and can be comfortably held in the hand; Color classification cups are made of quality silica gel; The scissors clips and tweezers are made of plastic, offering you a long time of use
  • Package Includes: the kid activities set contains 12 pieces of sorting cups, 8 pieces of tweezers, 2 pairs of scissors clips, a total of 120 color plush balls, each color we will provide you with 20 balls, sufficient quantity to meet your needs and replacement
  • Games for Fine Motor Skills for Babies: these colorful fur balls can help children learn how to classify and distinguish colors; Classification is also a memory game, which promotes children's logical thinking ability and exercises their color recognition ability and hand eye coordination ability
  • Wide Usages: the fine motor skills set teaches children math concepts such as addition, subtraction and even multiplication; Suitable for classrooms, resource rooms or home, helps children exercise their brain as well as their motor skills; You also can put them in the restaurants, cafe, office to offer to children
  • Nice Choice for Gifts: the tweezers and bead for kids set can be applied as a gift for your children or family; It is also a good way to establish close interaction and communication between parents and children or playmates
 Price: $ 21.99 Buy now at Amazon

DIY Sensory Table Version 1

I found a table on Facebook Marketplace that was a little Ikea table that someone had glued wooden slats to on the top. My husband measured and cut holes into the top to fit the shoebox size bins in so they’d stay in place. He also reinforced the table as it wasn’t all that sturdy.

This seemed like a great and inexpensive solution and it lasted for almost a year.

Then the slats of wood on top started falling off and using hot glue to put them back on wasn’t sufficient. Then the table started to grow mold, which wasn’t all that surprising. Once I noticed the mold, it had to be out of the house and no longer safe for use. Then on to idea #2.

My kids playing in the sensory table with water
Idea #1 lasted about a year until we needed something better…

Better DIY Water Table = Idea #2

After the first one didn’t work out the best, I had a new idea. Use a 4-foot folding table we already had and connect the sensory bins to it using velcro type hook and loop adhesive dots. That way the bins won’t slide around, I can take them off to empty or clean them, and take them off when I want to store the sensory table.

See photos below and further down I’ll explain the supplies. This DIY sensory table has three bins that are held onto the table with hook and loop adhesive dots, one bin for each child. I wanted to do bigger bins but they wanted the see through ones from the old sensory table. Works for me! This way they have more room to have things around their bins as well such as all the toys they play sink or float with.

As you can see, there is also an area where no one is standing and I have a cookie sheet there with another bin with water. They like to use a pretend coffee maker we have and I always have them use it on the cookie sheet because water gets everywhere. Though it’s not really needed here with the waterproof mat, they still wanted it so I figured why not?!

The DIY sensory table showing my 3 boys playing at it as well as a picture of the dots on the bottom of the containers to keep them in place
DIY sensory table from one way and then the other. Shows all 3 bins as well as the markings on the table from my children using it previously as a preschool table.
Don’t mind the markings, they used to use this as a preschool table and nothing I try has gotten the markings off!!
Showing how to adhere the bins to the table using hook and loop dots.
This is the how-to in terms of using the dots to adhere to the table.
Extra Feature: hangers for Norwex towels for easy water clean up.
Extra Feature: hangers for Norwex towels for easy water clean up.

The reason I added the hooks on the side of the table, which I realize may not work the best once I fold the table up, is because with the water my almost 4 year old twins always make a huge mess. This way we can have super absorbent Norwex cloths readily available and they can hang and dry there. The hooks I have are really old and not the best, I’d suggest the hooks I link below through the pink button.

Command Small Wire Toggle Hooks, Damage Free Hanging Wall Hooks with Adhesive Strips, No Tools Wall Hooks for Hanging Christmas Decorations, 10 Clear Hooks and 12 Command Strips
Command Small Wire Toggle Hooks, Damage Free Hanging Wall Hooks with Adhesive Strips, No Tools Wall Hooks for Hanging Christmas Decorations, 10 Clear Hooks and 12 Command Strips
by 3M
  • HOLDS UP TO 0.5 POUNDS: One package of the Command Clear Small Wire Toggle Hooks includes 10 wall hooks and 12 adhesive strips; each adhesive wall hook can hold up to 0.5 pounds
  • DAMAGE FREE HANGING: Wall hooks work without leaving holes, marks or sticky residue so you can move and rehang keys of holiday guests, stockings, ornaments and other Christmas decor
  • WORKS ON A VARIETY OF SMOOTH SURFACES: Adhesive wall hangers work on a variety of smooth surfaces, including painted walls, finished wood, painted concrete cinder blocks, laminate and tiles so you can create a festive winter wonderland in your space
  • SURFACE PREP: Clean with rubbing alcohol to remove grime and dust to allow the hanging hooks to bond to the surface; the indoor temperature must be between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 155 degrees Fahrenheit
  • USAGE TIPS: Wait seven days after painting before using the Command Hooks to allow paint to cure; do not hang over beds or on wallpaper; do not use the wall hooks for hanging valuable items
  • EASY CLEAN REMOVAL: Lightly hold the top of the wall adhesive strips and slowly pull straight down towards the floor to remove the 3M Hooks holding holiday decor and prevent damage of walls and surfaces; reuse your hook again by purchasing refill strips
 Price: $ 12.32 ($ 1.23 / Count) Buy now at Amazon

Supplies for DIY Sensory Table #2

Bins

You can use any type of bins you’d like depending on the size of the table you’re making into a sensory table and your needs. I wanted to use bigger bins but my kids wanted to still use the small transparent bins we had used in the old sensory table. They are a nice size so that they have plenty of room around them to store all their toys they use in the sensory table.

These are great also because they come with lids so you can just put a lid on when your kids are done for the day, or hour, and then come back to it without having to put everything away and then take it out again.

I highly recommend getting plastic shoebox size bins from Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Target, Walmart, or any other local store that would carry them. They are available on Amazon but extremely expensive for what they are. At Target you can get them for less than $2/each.

shoe box sized bin

4-Foot Folding Table

I’ve written about this 4-foot folding table in other blog posts as well. It’s great because it folds up to be 2ftx2ft and even has a handle! Another thing I love about it is that the height is adjustable. For the kids I use the lowest height and if we are using the table for a big dinner where we invited other adults to the house then we use it at the highest height.

SUPER DEAL Portable 4 Foot Plastic Folding Table, Indoor Outdoor Heavy Duty Fold-in-Half Picnic Party Camping Barbecues Table with Carrying Handle, White
SUPER DEAL Portable 4 Foot Plastic Folding Table, Indoor Outdoor Heavy Duty Fold-in-Half Picnic Party Camping Barbecues Table with Carrying Handle, White
by SUPER DEAL
  • Compact &Foldable -- The folding table can be easily folded up when not in use.It is big enough for almost any project, yet doesn't take up much floor space, and even old or child can easily set it up by themself
  • Multipurpose Table -- It weights only 19.4 pounds lightweight makes it easy to move. This portable square table can be used as dining table, picnic table, party table, etc
  •  Sturdy Construction -- It is constructed of premium HDPE top and solid steel legs .The surface is waterproof, scratch and impact resistant which also can withstand up to 300 lbs, and includes non-marring foot caps to protect your floors from scratches
  • Stable Legs -- The key to the outstanding stability is an arced tube welded between each pair of legs. These tubes plus the tight tolerances of the leg locking hardware eliminate any wobble for all practical purposes
  • Perfect Size -- 48.4 x 24.2 x 28.9 inches; it was a perfect size for the purpose and could easily be folded and stored,especially suitable for small space use.
 Price: $ 36.99 Buy now at Amazon

Waterproof Mat

We use the BIG waterproof mat with sides for so many different things in our home. It really helps keep water off the hardwood floors while the kids are playing. It also helps keep anything else off the floor and makes for easy clean up.

BLUETREE Sensory and Messy Play Mat for Toddlers, Infants and Kids, Safe, Waterproof, Double-Sided and Durable, Play Yard 59"x59"x7.9" Ivory and Gray
BLUETREE Sensory and Messy Play Mat for Toddlers, Infants and Kids, Safe, Waterproof, Double-Sided and Durable, Play Yard 59"x59"x7.9" Ivory and Gray
by FORHUMAN2020
  • Elevate Playtime with Our Mess-Friendly Kids Sensory Play Mat
  • 1.Cherish the Moment, Forget the Mess:Cherish the Moment, Forget the Mess: Let your children be children! With our Sensory Play Mat, you can watch them dive headfirst into creative exploration without worrying about the inevitable mess that comes with it.
  • 2.Create a Play Haven:Children crave a space where they can express themselves freely, and where parents can join in the fun. Our play mat easily transforms any area into a dedicated play zone, fostering precious moments of interaction through sensory and messy play.
  • 3.Effortless Cleanup:No more hassle with cleanup duty. Our fabric is designed to be stain-resistant, wipeable, and easy to wash. Say goodbye to the worries of paint, sand, glue, slime, glitter, powder, and scratches from playful tools. Protect your floors effortlessly.
  • 4.Durability with Style:Our reversible play mat features two attractive color options - ivory and gray. Not only does it endure the test of time, but it also complements your home's decor. Plus, it comes with a convenient storage bag for easy stowing.
  • 5.Safety First:Rest easy knowing that our play mat is Phthalate-free and fully compliant with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Your child's safety is our top priority.
  • 6.Perfectly Sized for Your Needs:Choose from two convenient sizes - medium (51 inches) and large (59 inches) - to cater to your specific space and play requirements.
  • Elevate playtime to a new level of creativity, exploration, and learning with our Kids Sensory Play Mat. Don't miss out on these priceless moments. Order yours today and embrace the magic of childhood, mess and all!
 Price: $ 36.90 Buy now at Amazon

Hook & Loop Adhesive Dots

These are great not only for this sensory table project but also if you want anything that is easily detachable on a surface such as making your own calendar, laminating it, and then letting your kids attach dates to it or what you’re going to do that day.

1000pcs Hook and Loop Dots 3/4 in Diameter Sticky Back Coins Heavy Duty Self Adhesive Dot Tapes for School Classroom(White)
1000pcs Hook and Loop Dots 3/4 in Diameter Sticky Back Coins Heavy Duty Self Adhesive Dot Tapes for School Classroom(White)
by Alldio
  • SCHOOL SUPPLIES:Great for school special education classroom projects. Contribute to outdoor and indoor for smooth surfaces, hook and loop coins can be used to adhere various items to boards, charts, folders and more.
  • TOUGH & DURABLE: Our coin loop and hook are so well engineered that can hold more pounds; Performance and effectiveness only drops after a significant amount of uses.
  • EASY TO USE: With self adhesive coins, you don't have to battle with buttons or struggle with a jammed zipper. Easy to peel off the sticky coins, saving you time.
  • SAFETY & NONTOXIC: The coin is made of polyester and nylon; BPA-free, using environmentally friendly, non-toxic and odorless adhesive. Tested be safe for children to use.
  • SIZE & PACKAGE: Sticky back dots diameter is 3/4 inch(20mm); Contain 500pcs hook coins and 500 loop coins, total 500 pair sets.
 Price not available Buy now at Amazon

DIY sensory table cheaper and better than others text with image of the sensory table I made

Founder, Professional Blogger at The Way it Really Is, LLC | [email protected] | Website

As a mom of identical twins and a son two years older, I have gained invaluable experience in the realm, and chaos, of parenting. With a Master's Degree and Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology, I spent years as a school psychologist, helping children navigate through their educational and emotional challenges. Now as a stay at home mom and professional blogger, I combine my areas of expertise to help you in your parenting journey.

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