6 Best Water Sensory Tables: Play with Water & Sand for Kids

Nothing keeps our son entertained outside as much as water

George Leon
Updated January 19, 2023

Many autistic children love watching water move around and playing with it. This love for water makes a water sensory table a source of endless fun for many kids.

A water sensory table is a small table with bins containing water and other sensory toys. 

  • It is an engaging source of fun for autistic children while helping with skill development. 
  • It teaches children cause and effect through play while working on their fine and gross motor skills.

We purchased the Step2 Cascading Cove Sand & Water Table and a Little Tikes Spinning Seas Water Table for our autistic son. 

  • During the warm summer months, both tables are among his favorite outdoor activities. 
  • While our son likes both, I’m not personally a fan of the Little Tikes Spinning Seas Water Table because the textured surface is hard to keep clean. Therefore, I did not include it in the following list.

Below, I’ll list the 6 top water sensory tables, including what I like about each, and some ideas for making your own.

The 6 best water sensory tables

Ready to give your little one an activity they’ll have fun with for hours? You can’t go wrong with the 6 options below.

Children’s Factory 24″ Large Sensory Table

Children's Factory 24" Large Sensory Table

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  • Large and durable design. 
  • Made from durable plastic with a rust-resistant steel frame. 
  • It can be used both indoors and outdoors. 
  • It has wheels so you can easily move it. 

Little Tikes Frog Pond Water Table

Little Tikes Frog Pond Water Table

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  • Simple and affordable water or sand table. 
  • It’s at a good height for toddlers. 

Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table

Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table

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  • Bright and colorful design. 
  • Has a waterfall effect. 
  • Great for multiple kids. 
  • Comes with 13 fun accessories.

Step2 Cascading Cove Sand & Water Table with Umbrella

Step2 Cascading Cove Sand & Water Table with Umbrella

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  • Has dual compartments, so you can use water in one and sand in the other for twice the fun. 
  • Comes with a lid and umbrella for shade during outdoor play.
  • Had molded-in roadways our son uses to play with his car toys.

ECR4Kids Sand and Water Adjustable Activity Play Table Center w/ Lids

ECR4Kids-ELR-12401 Sand and Water Adjustable Activity Play Table Center w/ Lids

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  • Easy to put together. 
  • You can adjust it to 3 height levels, so it grows with your child. 
  • The legs are sturdy metal with rubber feet to protect your floors. 
  • It’s easy to clean. 
  • You can pull the plastic bins right out of the base for quick cleanup. 

TickiT Sensory Mood Water Table 

TickiT Sensory Mood Water Table

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  • Features a soft-colored glow that you can adjust using a remote control. 
  • It is sturdy yet lightweight and easily wipes clean. 
  • This product is currently not available in the US.

Water sensory table ideas

Now that you’ve looked at our list of the best water tables, you might wonder what you put in a water sensory table. This section will cover ideas for you to make the most out of your child’s sensory play.

The amazing thing about sensory water tables is their versatility. The list of things you can add to your table is endless. Here are a few ideas:

  • Turn it into a bubble bath for toys
  • Play dishwashing station
  • Make a flower sensory soup
  • Add pom poms, marbles, or colored ice
  • Make your own ocean floor with pebbles, seashells, and toy fish

As if that’s not enough, you can also skip the water altogether and use the table for other sensory activities.

  • Use sand and toy dinosaurs to turn it into an excavation site
  • Mix shaving foam and food coloring
  • Use black beans or rice in place of sand

Making a DIY water sensory table

To make your own water sensory table, you will need a container such as a plastic bin or storage tub, some water, and a range of objects to add in. 

You can include items like rubber ducks, sponges, funnels, cups, and other small toys that are safe for the water. You can also add food coloring or glitter to the water and create a colorful bubble bath for your little one to explore. 

For water and sand sensory play, you can use the same container, but instead of water, fill it with sand or some other type of safe material for kids. Add buckets and shovels, and let your child explore the different textures.

Caution: Water beads can pose a safety hazard, so only allow kids to use them under supervision or avoid them altogether.

DIY Instructions

  1. Gather the needed materials: a container, water (or sand and water mixture), toys, and food coloring or glitter.
  2. Get your hands on an old wooden table or make your own table if you are handy with carpentry.
  3. Cut out a hole in the table’s surface big enough for your containers to fit.
  4. Place the container into the hole and fill it with water or a sand and water mixture.
  5. Add any toys you have chosen and sprinkle in glitter or food coloring for added fun.
  6. Let your little one explore their new water or sand sensory table!

Frequently asked questions

  • Is a water sensory table safe for my child?

    Yes, as long as the toys you add are age-appropriate and non-toxic. Make sure to supervise your little ones while they play.

  • How do I clean a water sensory table?

    You can easily pull out the container and empty it, wiping the table with a damp cloth. Make sure to also sanitize any toys that were in the water.

  • What do you put in a water sensory table?

    Any kind of toy that is safe for water play will do! This includes rubber ducks, sponges, funnels, cups, and other small toys your child can explore. You can also add food coloring or glitter to the water for extra stimulation.

Final thoughts

A water sensory table is a great way to stimulate your child’s senses. They are easy to make with just a few simple steps and materials. 

The best part is that there are endless possibilities for activities you can do with your child using a water sensory table. From adding different types of toys to playing in the bubbles, your little one will never get bored.

Be sure to supervise them at all times while they play and clean up afterward for a safe and fun sensory experience.

Written by George Leon

George Leon

George Leon is a dad to an autistic boy and the editor of Autism Horizon. George is also the founder of Scalebloom, a digital marketing company.