The arrival of summer also means the arrival of sunny days and scorching temperatures, so it’s time to dust off that water table in the outdoor learning area and put it to good use! Here are 20+ new and creative water table ideas, or ideas for your water sensory bin. They’re perfect to add to your summer theme lesson plans!
Cool Off With These Water Table Ideas
With the return of the intense heat, it’s time to cool off with water play.
I love having a water table for my young children. They provide hours of fantastic play and learning opportunities for both toddlers and preschoolers. Compiling this list has brought back many fond memories of playing with my sons at the water table in the backyard, in the playroom, or in the kitchen. Sometimes, we even turn the bathtub into a water sensory bin!
A water table is a must-have for playtime in any home or classroom. They’re not just for water play; they’re also perfect for all kinds of sensory play, as well as the development of fine motor skills by scooping and pouring water or squeezing a turkey baster and color mixing with an egg beater. They can also be used for learning activities!
Benefits of Water Sensory Table Play
Early Learning lets kids explore their environment and use nature as a teacher! Water play offers loads of fun, plus aids in physical ability building, emotional growth and enhancing early literacy skills. Best part? Kids are rarely ever bored by water play – it’s the perfect activity for children to enjoy learning through exploration!
Water play also promotes the following:
- math and science concepts
- concentration and focus
- social skills
- communication and oral language development
- hand-eye coordination
- fine motor skills
One summer I created an ocean themed small world sensory table on the back patio. My son loved feeling the different textures and playing with the ocean animal toys. It provided lots of opportunities to work on vocabulary and language skills while learning about all the different creatures in the sea.
While an ocean theme at the water table is quite traditional there are so many other creative play ideas for the water table.
FAQ About Water Tables and Sensory Bins
Water tables are inherently fun and are one of the best open-ended toys for toddlers and preschoolers.
You can make them more fun by adding interesting sensory materials along with a variety of toys such as cars, animals, cups, and scoops. Basically…anything that won’t be ruined by the water can be added to a water sensory bin!
Be creative in you water table play ideas!
One of the best things about water tables is their versatility. You can have fun with so many different materials in a water table, including water beads, ice cubes, soap foam, shaving cream, beans, rice, floral pebbles, sand, dirt…the possibilities are endless! You can also add common toys like a marble run, plastic animal figurines, or thematic math counters.
Water tables are a wonderful addition to your indoor play area, too, and you can even create winter water tables indoors.
They can be filled with dry materials and used just like a sensory bin! For easy clean up and to protect the floors, place a large bedsheet, tarp, or tablecloth underneath. You can even turn a bath tub into a water bin! Just make sure what you add isn’t so small that it could go down the drain.
Best Water Toys for a Water Table or Bin
We’ve mentioned a few already, but these water toys are our all-time favorites. In fact, sometimes my kids will sneak these toys into bath time.
Sensory Water Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Like all sensory activities, there are some safety differences in water table ideas for toddlers and water table ideas for preschoolers. We’ve created two lists dividing the two.
Please remember that since these sensory activities feature water, children should never be left unsupervised!
Best Sand and Water Tables for Kids
We’ve had a few sand and water tables in our preschool These are our favorites due to their size and versatility.
These 20+ water table ideas just might save your bacon this summer.
With rising temperatures, we want our preschoolers and toddlers to be safe while learning and playing outside; water table activities are the perfect way to keep them cool. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and keep your little ones hydrated, too! And just as important, always supervise your preschoolers and toddlers when they play around water!
Must Have Items to Keep Kids Safe This Summer
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.