If you’re looking for an alternative to those expensive designer sensory tables look no further! Here’s a simple, sturdy, inexpensive DIY sensory table for just $25 that will keep your kids entertained for hours!
DIY SENSORY TABLE FOR ONLY $25!
When we started a Summer of Playing Skillfully I knew it wouldn’t be long before we would need a sensory table. The only problem was, those things are expensive! A good one is over $100 and I just knew the cheap ones wouldn’t last long.
So, I enlisted the help of my father-in-law and we started researching. There are a lot of DIY tutorials out there… but we didn’t really love any of them. So we took inspiration from a few and came up with our own design and I’m so excited to share it with you!
What is a sensory table?
First of all, what is a sensory table? Also known as sand/water tables, sensory tables are basically play stations where kids can engage in sensory play. So what is sensory play? Play that allows children to engage with some or all of their five senses.
Besides being fun and capturing tiny toddler attention spans. Sensory play has many benefits. This list is from Goodstart.org.
- It helps to build nerve connections in the brain
- It encourages the development of motor skills
- It supports language development
- It encourages ‘scientific thinking’ and problem solving
- It encourages mindfulness
What does all this mean? If you’ve got kids, you need a sensory table!
DIY SENSORY TABLE FOR ONLY $25!
- 1 in. PVC Elbow x8 ($1.14/per)
- 1 in. PVC T’s x8 ($1.34/per)
- 10 ft. pole of 1 in. PVC Pipe x2 ($2.06/per)
- Clear, single step, medium PVC cement ($10.56)
- Medium Cement Mixing Tub ($5.75)
- PVC Cutters (So much easier than a saw!)
- Measuring Tape
- Something to protect your work surface, if needed
- Time: About 45 min – 1 hour.
- A simple
1. Measure, mark, and cut your PVC into the following sections: Refer to the drawing (right) to see where it all fits.
- 1 3/4″ x8
- 17 1/4″ x8
- 18 1/2″ x4
*NOTE: Our measurements are based on the Medium Concrete Mixing Tub from Home Depot. If you are using a different tub/bin, you’ll need to make your cuts to fit snug around your bin.
*TIP: The legs are cut to be the perfect height for my 3-year-old and they’re the only pieces not glued in place, this is so we can swap out for longer legs as she grows.
3. Build the top of your table. Do this by assembling one whole long side, then the other, each time making sure that your elbows and T’s are facing the right direction. The easiest way to make sure you do this part right is to build it around the tub.
*TIP: Use your tub/bin/container as your guide and build around it! We made two of these and the second time we got going fast and thought we knew what we were doing. We were wrong! We accidentally glued one of the elbows and T’s together facing the wrong way and had to run to the store for replacement parts.
Top, Long Sides
- First, apply cement to the inside of an elbow and the outside of one of your small pipes. Push together.
- Slot in the long 17 1/4″ side piece and a T on the other end (not glued!) to help you get a true 90 degree angle when you glue the T in place.
- Apply cement to the inside of the T and the outside of the small pipe already glued to the elbow. Push together. Using the other attached pipes, make sure you get a true 90 degree angle on that T for the leg to slot in later. Short pieces should be short enough for little to no gap between the elbow and T once cemented.
- Repeat for the other end.
- Apply cement to the outside of one end of your long pipes (18 1/2:”) and the inside of one of your T’s. Push together.
- Finally, apply cement to the open end of the long pipe and the inside of the other T. Line up with your tub and push together to make sure get a tight fit that the tub will be able to slot into once completed.
- Disconnect the any unglued pieces and set aside.
- Repeat for the 2nd long side.
TOP, Short sides
Once both long sides are made, cement the short side pipes in place.
- Apply cement to the outside of one long pipe and the inside of one elbow, connect and push together.
- Repeat for the other end of the same long side. Important: Cement both short sides to one long side before attaching both to the other long side, this is important to get a tight fit (plus, it’d be impossible to do the other way!).
- For this step, its helpful to have a partner. Place the long side with the attached short sides around the bin. Have your partner hold up the short sides for easy cement application.
- Apply cement to the outside of both short ends, and the inside of both elbows on the opposite long side.
- Push both sides together at the same time, one person on each end, around the tub to ensure a tight fit.
- Repeat all of the Top steps again to create the bottom of your table.