Sensory Table Ideas……and Sanity

I see them all over Pinterest.  Sensory table ideas complied with such care as to be considered works of art.  Children playing happily with naught a grain of bird seed out of place.  That’s not always how it is at my house, which is why I finally went on a search of ideas to help Mamas maintain their sensory table sanity.

Cause ain’t everyone’s life like a Pinterest picture.  (right?  please tell me it’s not just at my house.)

Sensory Table Activities

You may remember this post where I explained how to color lima beans for sensory tables  Parker has loved his sensory table.  He’s loved the lima beans.

I haven’t been so thrilled with the mess.

When did I get so old and crabby anyway?  Perhaps the day I walked into Parker’s classroom and realized that 10 pounds of colored lima beans were all over the joint?

I was talking with one of Parker’s former teachers and she gave me some great sensory table tips that have been helping to take a bit of the crabby out of our sensory table play.

1.  Does your child throw the items in his sensory table out?  Or does he throw them up?  (If you kid never makes a mess when playing in his sensory table now really isn’t the best time to share that with me, k?)

How your kid hucks his sensory items makes a big difference.  If he hucks the stuff OUT that is a sign that he is bored or just wanting to get a rise out of you.

If he throws it UP…..well, that is a sensory thing.  A messy sensory thing for sure, but still a sensory thing.   Parker tends to throw his stuff up which means he is sensory seeking while making his mess, not simply trying to make me nuts.

2.  Put your sensory table or box in a bigger container.  This will make it super easy to dump the stuff that escaped back into your sensory table’s bin.

3.  Make sure you have an empty container in your sensory table in order for your mess making kid to transfer into.  If he chooses to put the sensory materials anywhere else, the activity comes to a close.

4.  Make sure all participants help clean up.  Even the 17 year old who sneaks in to play.  ahem.

5. Don’t forget to use your descriptive words as you play.  “The pine tree branches are pokey.”  “The cotton balls are soft.”

6.  Change up the contents of your sensory table often. Keep it fresh and fun.

This Veteran Teacher also gave me some ideas of unexpected things to fill a sensory table with.

  • jello
  • pudding
  • real live goldfish.  she flushes them when they start to head south.  I’m not sure I have the heart to do this, but man it sure would cement the idea of ‘fish’ in Parker’s mind, eh?
  • potato flakes
  • fish tank gravel
  • marbles and paper tubes
  • baby oil  <—–  i adore this woman, but it will be a cold day in Hades before I fill a sensory table with baby oil and let Parker go at it, even if it does look really cool with glitter.   just sayin’.
  • cornmeal
  • oobleck (equal parts of cornstarch and water)

pine tree circles for sensory tables

Pine tree circles that Reed cut to use in Parker’s sensory table.

Those of you Brave Souls who incorporate sensory tables into their kids schooling, what tips do you employ to make sure the experience is fun for everyone?

PS:  Two other suggestions Miss Linda gave me included getting a mini-tramp for Parker and another large toy…..perhaps an indoor teeter totter that one child can sit in the middle and use.  If any of our local readers might have something like this they aren’t using anymore and might like to sell, please let us know!  


  1. mamajoyx9 Apr 3, 13
  2. kadiera
    Apr 4, 13
  3. Monica Apr 4, 13
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