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Now don’t get overwhelmed! Yes there are a thousand options but we can keep it really simple.
What is your budget?
What space do you have for this table?
And what size are you looking for?
Think about your home, family and budget as you read through these 3 basic options.
1.The cheapest and smallest would be a simple plastic storage bin. To keep it really simple you can just place the tote on a tarp or old sheet and call it a sensory bin! It even works on a table or out in the grass.
This option actually has one component that I love beyond all other options. If you have a little storage you can buy a couple of these totes and devote each one to a specific sensory item. Fill one with dried beans, when your done throw the lid on it and put it in a closet. The next one fill with sand or rice and when your done store it with the other. Save one for water or other sensory items that you will discard at the end of play time. I love the ease of storing the goodies in the same tote you’ll be using them in.
The downside to this option is it is harder to contain the mess. When a child was sitting to the side of the tub I found I was constantly reminding them that the beans stay IN the tub, or our bodies stay OUT of the tub.
I used this option for over a year with my first and loved it. But by the end of the year I knew I was ready for option 2.
2. There is also a lot of options to build your own. This one is a lot like my husband built for our little girl over 3 years ago. You can find the instructions to this one on the blog Ring Around The Rosies.
It was made out of old recycled wood and has been an outdoors toy for 2 years, but still working great! My favorite aspect of the DIY sensory table is you can have someone build them exactly to your liking. How tall do you want it? How big of a container do you want it to hold?
My sister had someone build her this one, her little boy adores it! I know there are many plans to be found on pinterest, and a good maker of things would not need a plan, just some basic measurements and maybe an example.
Here is one my cousin’s husband made for her little girl.
As you can see they are all very different but tailor made for the family that will be using them. This option is not as expensive as buying one on line but definitely more than just buying a storage container.
3. The most expensive would be to simply purchase one on line. I purchased this one for my preschool. (I also find strange zoo animals enjoy the sensory table!)
I love how it is big enough to fit a lot of friends around it. I LOVE the drain option. It is so nice for water! I also love that it is all plastic and so easy to wipe down. The other thing I love about it is the lid. I didn’t think a lid was very important, and then entered the toddler! It is so nice to throw the lid on and immediately the activity is over and I don’t have to do a bunch of policing.
Downside to the buying options is obviously price. Also you have to look long and hard for what you are after. I do not like the very shallow ones. Not enough space to get your hands messy. I also don’t like the tables that have things stuck in them that you cant remove. I feel like it restricts certain types of play. I just want a big empty table! Also these tend to be big and bulky, so if you have a small space this option might not be for you.
After 5+ years of working in a preschool setting I have seen the magic of a sensory table! It is number one on my favorites list. I also used it for my own children from the time they can pull themselves into standing position. No mother would regret buying some form of a sensory table!