How to Make a Sensory Table

A sensory table is a fun and engaging activity for children of all ages. It provides a hands-on, interactive experience that encourages exploration, discovery, and creativity. Not only is it educational, but it also helps develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and problem-solving abilities.

How to Make a Sensory Table

In this guide, we will walk you through the steps of how to make a sensory table at home. From choosing the right materials to setting it up and creating different sensory experiences, you’ll have everything you need to get started.

Understanding Sensory Play

Before we dive into the steps of making a sensory table, let’s first understand what sensory play is and why it’s important for children. Sensory play is any activity that stimulates the senses – sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. These activities allow children to explore and make sense of the world around them.

Sensory play helps in developing cognitive skills such as problem-solving, language development, and memory. It also promotes social and emotional development by encouraging children to express their feelings and interact with others. Additionally, sensory play can be calming and therapeutic for children who may struggle with sensory processing.

Tools and Materials You Will Need to Make Sensory Table

1. A sturdy table or bin with sides

2. Plastic storage containers or trays of various sizes (these will fit inside the table)

3. Sand, water, rice, beans, or other filler materials

4. Small toys such as plastic animals, toy cars, or measuring cups

5. Scoops, spoons, and other utensils for scooping and pouring

6. Optional: food coloring or scented oils for added sensory experiences

Step-by-step Guidelines on How to Make a Sensory Table

Step 1: Choose a Suitable Table

Find a Suitable Surface

The first step in making a sensory table is to find a suitable surface to work with. It should be sturdy and have sides that are tall enough to prevent the materials from spilling out. A large plastic storage bin or a child-sized table will work great. Choosing a table with adjustable legs is also beneficial as it allows you to change the height as your child grows. This ensures that they can comfortably play with the sensory table for a longer period.

Step 2: Gather Materials

Next, gather all the materials you will need for your sensory table. You can use a wide variety of fillers such as sand, water, rice, beans, or even shaving cream. Consider using different textures and colors to create a more engaging experience. Also, collect various tools like scoops, spoons, and measuring cups for scooping and pouring. Make sure you have enough materials to fill and refill the sensory table as needed.

Step 3: Set up the Sensory Table

Once you have all your materials gathered, it’s time to set up the sensory table. Place the plastic storage containers or trays inside the table and fill them with different materials. You can also add toys and other objects for children to explore. Consider placing a plastic tablecloth underneath the sensory table to catch any spills and make clean-up easier. While setting up, involve your child in the process and let them help make decisions on what materials to use.

Step 4: Create Different Sensory Experiences

Change the Contents

The beauty of a sensory table is that you can change the contents and create new experiences as often as you’d like. Consider adding food coloring or scented oils to the filler materials for added sensory stimulation. You can also create themed sensory experiences by incorporating different toys and objects.

For example, use plastic animals for a safari-themed experience or measuring cups and spoons for a baking-themed experience. Remember to supervise your child while they play with the sensory table.

Step 5: Clean-up and Maintenance

After each use, make sure to clean up the sensory table and its components thoroughly. Discard any contaminated filler materials and wash the toys and tools used. You can also store the sensory table in a safe place for future use, making sure to replace any worn-out materials. This will ensure the longevity and safety of your child’s sensory table.

Following these simple steps will help you create a fun and educational sensory table for your child to enjoy. Remember to always supervise your child while they play and have fun exploring different textures, colors, and objects in their new sensory table!  So, why wait? Gather your materials and get started on creating your very own sensory table today!

Additional Tips and Tricks to Make a Sensory Table

1. If you are using a water table for your sensory play, be mindful of the amount of water that you use. Too much water can make it difficult to see or feel the objects on the table, and too little water may not provide enough sensory stimulation.

2. Consider adding different textures to your sensory table, such as rice, beans, sand, or even shaving cream. This will add another layer of sensory play and allow children to explore different tactile sensations.

3. Don’t limit yourself to just using food items on the sensory table. You can also incorporate non-food items such as pom poms, feathers, or even small toys for added variety.

Non-food Items Such as Pom Poms

4. Use a variety of containers and tools for scooping and pouring in the sensory table. This will provide a different experience for children and allow them to develop their fine motor skills.

5. Consider incorporating a theme into your sensory table, such as a beach theme with sand and seashells, or a jungle theme with leaves and toy animals. This will make the sensory play more engaging and encourage imaginative play.

6. To save time on clean-up, consider using a plastic tablecloth or mat underneath the sensory table to catch any spills or messes.

7. Encourage children to use their senses beyond just touch in the sensory table. They can also listen to the sounds of different materials, smell different scents, and even taste some edible items.

8. Have a designated area for hand-washing near the sensory table so that children can easily clean their hands after playing. This will help keep the table and materials clean for future use.

9. Don’t be afraid to get messy with your sensory play! Children learn best through hands-on experiences, and a little mess is a small price to pay for all the benefits of sensory play.

Following these additional tips and tricks can help make your sensory table a fun and engaging experience for children. Get creative, have fun, and watch as children learn and explore through their senses!  No matter how you choose to set up your sensory table, the most important thing is to provide a safe and stimulating environment for children to play and learn. Happy sensory playing!

Things You Should Consider to Make a Sensory Table

Choose Materials That Are Interesting

1. The first thing you should consider when making a sensory table is the materials you will use. Keep in mind that this table is meant to engage children’s senses, so choose materials that are interesting and safe for them to explore. Some examples of materials that can be used include sand, water, rice, dried beans, shaving cream, and even small toys or objects.

2. Another important factor to consider is the size and height of the table. The table should be at a comfortable height for children to reach and play with the materials. It should also be large enough to accommodate multiple children playing together, as this encourages social interaction and cooperation.

3. When constructing the sensory table, make sure that it is sturdy and stable. Children can get very excited when playing with sensory materials and may lean or put weight on the table, so it is important that it can withstand this type of activity.

4. It is also a good idea to have a cover for the sensory table when not in use. This helps keep the materials clean and prevents them from spilling out. You can use a fitted sheet or a plastic tarp as a cover.

5. Consider the location of the sensory table as well. It should be placed in an area where children can easily access and play with it, but also not in a high-traffic area where it can get bumped or knocked over.

6. When setting up the materials for the sensory table, keep in mind that they should be age-appropriate and safe for children to handle. For younger children, avoid using small objects that can be choking hazards. For older children, you can incorporate more complex materials and tools to enhance their sensory experience.

7. It is also important to regularly clean and sanitize the sensory table and its materials to ensure a safe and hygienic play environment for children. This includes wiping down the table after each use and regularly washing any reusable materials.

8. Consider incorporating different textures, colors, and scents in the sensory table to provide a variety of sensory experiences for children. This can help stimulate their senses and promote cognitive development.

9. Don’t be afraid to change up the materials and activities in the sensory table to keep it engaging and interesting for children. You can also involve them in the creative process by asking for their input and ideas.

10. Lastly, always supervise children when they are playing with the sensory table to ensure their safety and monitor their play. With these considerations in mind, you can create a fun and stimulating sensory table for children to explore, learn, and play!

Ensure Their Safety

Following these considerations can help you create a successful and enjoyable sensory table for children. Remember to always prioritize their safety and well-being while providing them with a fun and educational experience. With your creativity and attention to detail, the possibilities for sensory play are endless! Keep exploring, experimenting, and learning through play with a sensory table. Happy creating! 

The Benefits of Making a Sensory Table

1. Sensory Stimulation and Developmental Growth:

Sensory tables provide endless opportunities for children to engage in hands-on, open-ended play that stimulates all of their senses. By using different materials such as water, sand, or even dry pasta, children can explore different textures, colors, and sounds.

This type of sensory stimulation is crucial for their overall development and helps improve cognitive skills such as problem-solving, memory retention, and language acquisition. Additionally, sensory play encourages fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination as children manipulate the materials on the table.

2. Promotes Creativity and Imagination:

With a sensory table, there are no rules or specific instructions on how to play. Children are free to use their imagination and creativity to explore and experiment with different materials. This type of open-ended play allows them to come up with their ideas and solutions, which helps foster critical thinking skills. It also promotes self-expression as children can create and build whatever they want on the sensory table.

3. Encourages Social Interaction:

Promoting Social Interaction

A sensory table is a great tool for promoting social interaction among children. By having multiple children play together, they learn how to share, take turns, and cooperate. This type of play also helps build communication skills as children discuss and collaborate on their ideas and creations. It encourages teamwork and problem-solving as they work together to achieve a common goal.

4. Supports Sensory Integration:

Sensory integration is the process of organizing sensory information from our surroundings and making sense of it. For some children, this process can be challenging, and they may struggle with sensory processing disorders.

Sensory tables provide a safe and controlled environment for them to explore different textures, smells, and sounds at their own pace. This type of play helps them make sense of the world around them and can lead to improved sensory integration.

5. Versatile Learning Tool:

Sensory tables can be used for a wide range of learning activities, making them a versatile tool in any educational setting. From science experiments and sensory bins to math games and art projects, the possibilities are endless.

Teachers can easily adapt the materials on the table to match different lesson plans and cater to various age groups. This promotes continuous engagement and makes learning fun and interactive.

6. Easy to Set up and Clean:

One of the most significant benefits of sensory tables is their ease of use. They require minimal setup and can be used both indoors and outdoors. The materials used for sensory play are also easy to find and affordable, making it a budget-friendly activity. Cleaning up after a session is also straightforward, as most materials can be disposed of or easily wiped down.

Cleaning Up After a Session

These are just some of the many benefits of incorporating a sensory table into a child’s playtime or educational activities. From promoting developmental growth to encouraging social interaction, sensory tables are an invaluable tool for children’s overall well-being and learning. So why wait? Start creating your sensory table today and watch as your child’s imagination and creativity soar!

Precautions Need to Be Followed for Making a Sensory Table

  1. First and foremost, safety should always be the top priority when making a sensory table. Adult supervision is necessary at all times, especially for younger children.
  2. Consider the age-appropriateness of the materials used on the sensory table. For example, small objects or choking hazards should be avoided for young children.
  3. Make sure to regularly clean and disinfect the sensory table and materials to prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.
  4. If using water or any other liquids, make sure to check the temperature to avoid burns or scalding.
  5. Always have a plan for the disposal of used materials, especially if they are not reusable. This includes proper waste management and avoiding littering.
  6. Consider any potential allergies children may have when choosing materials for the sensory table. Be mindful of any potential triggers and have alternative options available.
  7. Avoid using messy or staining materials that may be difficult to clean up, especially in indoor settings.
  8. Make sure there is enough space around the sensory table for children to move freely and safely.

Following these precautions will help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for children using the sensory table. By taking necessary safety measures, you can create a fun and engaging sensory play environment for children to learn and grow in.  So go ahead and start making your sensory table today!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Sensory Table Safe for Kids?

Yes, a sensory table is generally considered safe for kids as long as it’s used properly and under adult supervision. It’s important to choose materials and activities that are appropriate for the child’s age and development level. Make sure to also regularly clean and sanitize the sensory table to maintain a hygienic environment.

Can I Use Food in a Sensory Table?

It’s generally not recommended to use food as the main material in a sensory table, as it can quickly become messy and attract pests. However, you can use food items in small amounts as a part of an activity. For example, using dry spaghetti noodles for building or colored cereal for sporting activities. Just make sure to clean up any leftover food and sanitize the sensory table afterward.

How Can I Make Sensory Table Play Educational?

Sensory play is already inherently educational as it encourages children to use their senses and explore different materials. To make it even more educational, you can incorporate specific learning objectives into the play, such as color recognition, counting, or vocabulary building. You can also switch up the materials and activities to keep the child engaged and learning in new ways.

Can I Use a Sensory Table with Children of All Ages?

Yes, sensory tables are suitable for children of all ages, but the materials and activities should be tailored to the child’s age and development level. For younger children, choose materials that are safe for them to put in their mouths, such as larger items or edible materials. For older children, you can incorporate more complex activities and encourage them to use their imagination and creativity.


Now you know how to make a sensory table and have some ideas for materials and activities to use. Remember to always supervise children when using the sensory table, choose appropriate materials, and regularly clean and sanitize it.

Sensory play is not only fun but also beneficial for a child’s development, so have fun incorporating it into your daily routine!  So go ahead, get creative, and watch as your child learns and grows through sensory play. And don’t forget to share your experiences and ideas with other parents and caregivers – the possibilities for sensory table play are endless!  Happy playing!  

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Loren Jones

Hi, my name is Loren. I live with my husband and 4 lovely kiddos in the Eastern part of San-fransisco. I have a smart beautiful,curious 6 year old daughter, a handsome 11-year-old son, an intelligent and tech geek 15 years old son and a creative, artistic 12-year-old stepson. With each of my kids being five years apart, I feel that I’m now continually phasing in and out of each stage of parenting! I’ve learned a lot about the way children learn and behave, especially in a school setting with regards to curriculum. I enjoy sharing that insight through my writing and hope that it can help others.

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