Sensory tableIn this first part of our Make Your Own... series we will look at activities you can do with your children using just the materials commonly found in the home.

Children learn and retain a great deal of information when they engage their senses. Of course that makes perfect “sense”, because even we adults often learn by doing. For instance, you could watch someone else bake a cake or tie a tie, but only through repeating the process yourself will you actually learn it.

In much the same way, infants and toddlers engage their problem solving and decision-making skills through sensory play. Even simple activities like sorting and matching counters or pouring sand or rice through a funnel can really get the brain synapses firing!

Through touch and feel, children also develop descriptive and expressive language. Imagine trying to explain “sticky” to someone who’s never experienced that sensation. It would be difficult to do. With sensory play, children begin to develop a concrete understanding of wet, cold, hard…etc.

Sensory play is also essential for developing fine and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills can be developed by encouraging the manipulation of materials, such as mixing, measuring, pouring and scooping, while other activities like rolling, throwing, and water play can help develop gross motor skills.

With all these benefits it’s easy to see why therapists and educators put such an emphasis on sensory play.

Here’s a simple, easy to clean, sensory table concept you can make using just the materials already found at home.

What you need:

  • 6” deep plastic or rubber tub or container
  • 1 lb. bag or rice or beans
  • Baby food caps
  • Measuring cups
  • Serving spoons (soft rubber)
  • Funnel
  • Tent (optional)

Materials for sensory table

Simply pour the rice or beans into the container. Baby food caps make for great colorful counters. You can bury them in the rice or leave them out to be played with. The funnel is a fun way to learn about gravity, or special concepts like what can be poured down and what can’t.

rice and beans

Serving utensils like the ones below make great development tools for helping your little ones play… while building up fine motor skills. The soft rubber basting brush will be a huge hit!

Serving Utensils

Set the container on a table or on the floor. With a big enough container, an infant or toddler could use it similar to a portable sandbox.

playing in a sensory table

If you happen to have a small play tent, sent the container inside for a private and contained play place for your little one.

Are you going to make your own sensory table? If you feel like sharing, or have any questions, drop us a line at We’d love to hear from you!