Here are 8 sensory table benefits, along with how to set up a sensory table space in the classroom or at home. Make sensory play easy and manageable!
Using a sensory table at home or in the classroom has multiple benefits for kids. From educational to social skills, playing on a sensory table is incredibly important for children. And, children of all ages can reap these benefits.
We know the importance of sensory play in general, but read on to see how having an established area such as a sensory table can really benefit kids.
What is a sensory table?
A sensory table is a designated table that hosts sensory bins, messy play, or other materials that encourage children to learn with all 5 senses.
It is meant to encourage children to explore by touching and experiencing the materials that have been presented to them. This is an open-ended, creative and imaginative process for kids.
One of our favorite messy play activities at a sensory table is oobleck! See how to make oobleck here.
How to set up a sensory table space
Having a space for sensory play in the classroom or the home helps keeps sensory play manageable with kids. When parents or educators hear the words sensory play, they often equate that with mess.
This can be as simple as a small table with sensory bins on it, or a table built in bin areas, or a large tub-style sensory bin on legs that multiple children can stand around.
While messy play is often a component of sensory play, the mess doesn’t have to take over. By setting a clearly definite space, like a sensory table, children automatically understand some boundaries around their play, such as keeping materials in the designated area, or the number of children allowed to play in the area at a time.
It can also be helpful to keep a tarp or a high chair splat mat under the sensory table to contain the mess as well.
Keeping sensory play open-ended is essential, but providing rules and boundaries around the sensory table play keeps the process manageable for educators and parents and more peaceful for children.
By setting up a sensory table area and setting some boundaries, you can really allow children to reap the benefits of sensory table play!
8 Sensory Table Benefits for Kids
Here are a few reasons why you might want to entertain the idea of setting up a sensory table in your space.
Fine motor skills: pinching, grasping, and pouring are all excellent for little fingers. These are fundamental to pre-writing skills too!
Critical thinking: what will happen if I move these materials here, or what will sound will dumping this make? These are the kinds of thought that children will experiment with and test.
Language skills: children will work together and engage in conversations about what they are playing with. They will build their vocabulary as they are exposed new materials, and they will engage in pretend play play talking through different scenarios.
Social skills: having a sensory table space that allows multiple children to play with together encourages discussion, collaboration and teamwork.
Calm down tool: sensory play is great for decompression and overstimulation. Playing with sensory materials often has relaxing properties as well.
Creativity: sensory play is meant to be open-ended and allows for creativity and imagination in the play.
Multi-sensory learning: setting up your sensory table to go along with a concept you are teaching, or a theme such as a holiday, provides children with the opportunity to learn more about the material through a multi-sensory approach.
Math skills: add measuring cups to teach measurement. Add tall and wide containers to teach conservation (the idea that amount of a material stays the same despite the way it arranged). Encourage counting, addition and subtraction at the table!
The benefits of a sensory table are awesome
As you can see, not only is sensory play incredibly fun for kids, but it’s also incredibly beneficial to development! By setting up a sensory table as a designated space in your classroom or home, sensory play will be manageable and fun for all.