Cincinnati Family Magazine

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March 25, 2023

Sensory Table Fun

Our sensory table is by far the “toy” most loved and used by my children in our house. Sensory tables can provide hours of play and provide an opportunity for every kiddo to feel successful. While using a sensory table, kids are building their language, social, fine and gross motor skills. Sensory tables can be calming and therapeutic too!

Sensory tables are great for open-ended exploration. As soon as I remove the lid on ours, my kids immediately stop what they are doing and head over to explore what is inside. Yes, sensory tables can get messy … really messy, but that’s half of the fun! They enjoy playing on their own, with each other, and with my husband and me. When I join in, I work on embedding lessons into our play. I will talk about what I see, feel, smell, hear … we leave out taste in our sensory table play as lots of little hands have used it and I don’t want to spread germs. My kids enjoy telling me which senses they are using in their play. These conversations help increase their language skills too!

Don’t have a sensory table? No problem! Large totes, boxes, or water tables can work too. Here is a list of some of our favorite sensory table combinations:

  • Black beans and small plastic pots, shovels, fake flowers, and watering pots for gardening fun.
  • Green Easter grass and plastic bugs, bug “cages,” magnifying glasses, and tweezers to “catch” bugs.
  • Easter grass and Easter eggs filled with surprises.
  • Snow.
  • Ice (with their fav super heroes frozen inside) and squirt bottles with warm water.
  • Cloud dough (1 cup baby oil and 8 cups flour) and plastic planets.
  • Plastic pellets – We put everything in this one!
  • Dried peas and plastic gold coins for some St. Patty’s Day fun.
  • Kinetic sand – cookie cutters, measuring cups, shovels, dinosaurs … fun to make dino prints and “fossils” with.
  • Beans – We put just about everything into our bean bin too!
  • Rice and foam letters for spelling.
  • Packaging peanuts and plastic snakes … my kids think it hilarious.
  • Water-measuring cups, soap to make bubbles, and dishes to pretend to wash!
  • Rocks and construction vehicles.
  • Cornstarch and water – So messy, but so fun! It feels like a solid, but is a liquid.
  • Baking soda and vinegar.
  • Leaves, twigs, pinecones, and acorns – my son calls it his “nature” work – he collects what he wants inside of it.
  • Paint.
  • Cotton and spiders to make webs.
  • Noodles and scoops.
  • Popcorn Kernels and containers with lids to make shakers.

*Some children are sensitive to over-stimulation. If your child receives occupational therapy, talk to your OT first about appropriate materials and length of time for sensory play.

About the Author

Tina Pratt

Tina Pratt is the mom of two littles. She is a former PreK- 5 special education teacher that now works as a behavior coach. She enjoys being a tourist in her own town and finding ways to embed lessons into everyday fun!