- Games, Toys, and Hobbies
5 Good Portable Home Sand & Water Tables 2017
My Kids Love Sand Tables!
There are many books and studies that will tell you about the importance of sensory play for young children. Sensory play (also called messy play!) is vital because as little children engage all their senses and mix, pour, build, and splash they are learning first hand how things work, and cause and effect.
When engaging in sensory play I watch my little kids become miniature scientists, they investigate the world around them by grabbing, filling and spilling, smashing, listening, and feeling. While I really love the idea of sensory play, I have had a hard time sometimes finding places that I can let my kids really just go to town without being stressed about cleaning up the mess after. A sand and water table is the perfect answer, because it can be used outdoors or in, and keeps the mess contained, and gives them a place to play in the dirt other than my flower beds. One thing I've found that works well for using a sand and water table indoors is getting and shower curtain (or two!) and laying them out under the table, and then when we are done playing I can just fold them up and take them outside to shake off and dry, and clean up is very quick and easy.
I have never met a toddler or young child who didn't love playing with sand and water, and if you throw in a few sticks, scoops, buckets, cars and other small toys you have hours of fun on your hands. But you aren't just limited to sand and water, you can also fill your sand table with rice, beans, dry pasta, cornmeal, un-popped popcorn, or anything else you can come up with.
The first thing I looked for when buying a sand table was that it was sturdy, because the last thing I wanted was the whole table tipping over and spilling the sand and water. I also wanted it to be easy to clean and store, and durable. Today I've reviewed some of the top sand and water tables available today to help you in finding the perfect sensory play table for your child.
5 Good Sand and Water Tables for Kids
American Plastic Toy Water Wheel Play Table
The American Plastic Toy Water Wheel Play Table is a great table for the price, I especially recommend it for those with younger children, and who want something that doesn't take up a lot of room. I like the triangular shape, because it can fit back in a corner and not take up as much space on your porch or in a room. This is the lightest play table I looked at, it weighed less than 7 pounds empty, which is great when you are moving it around, but I wouldn't recommend letting your little ones climb up on it as it doesn't feel quite as sturdy as some of the other choices, but it didn't feel flimsy either.
I also liked the attachments and toys that come with this table, the funnel and spinner tower work better with sand than water, but I usually put sand in that part of the table anyway, so that wasn't a problem for me. It also comes with a little pitcher and 2 little plastic boats, which are used every time we play with the table. Because this table is light it also works well for using as an indoor play table and for toy storage in the winter or when you aren't using it for water or sand play.
Step2 Sand and Water Transportation Station
Another good option for small spaces is the Step2 Sand and Water Transportation Station. I thought this table was better for more kids playing at one time, each leg extends up to a funnel with a different wheel or bucket underneath, so everyone isn't crowded around one corner of the play table. I also really like the little train track and train cars that come with this table, all three of my boys have loved trains, so combining and train track with the sand and water was like mixing all their favorite things into one. This table also comes with a shovel/rake, 2 boats, and a removable cover that straps on with elastic. I have a Step2 picnic table and chairs that came with an umbrella, and this table has a place where I can use that same umbrella, which I really like on hot summer days. You can also buy the umbrella separately if you want.
One thing with this table, I feel like it works better if you use it just with water or just with sand, the toys were a little on the flimsy side, and when the sand and water mixed and got muddy none of them seemed to work as well.
Sandbox Castle 2-in-1 Sand and Water Table
The bright colors and fun toys of the Sandbox Castle 2-in-1 Sand and Water Table with Beach Play Set for Kids bring a little bit of the beach to your backyard. I really like the wide variety of toys for sand play that are included with this table. The shovel and rake, buckets, sand molds and watering can were lots of fun at the table, but the table is a little on the small side compared to the size of the toys, so many these toys ended up being played with off the table more than on it.
This table is light and the legs come off, which makes it very portable, but this is another table that I wouldn't feel comfortable letting my kids climb on it for fear of tipping over. But with all the toys, there is enough to play with standing by it that it should keep your kids busy and on the ground.
Step2 Naturally Playful Sand & Water Center
If you have a little more space, I really like the Step2 Naturally Playful Sand & Water Center. This table provides plenty of space for multiple children to play at once, and is very sturdy. The cover is waterproof, and is also rugged enough that, even though I try to keep the children from climbing on the cover, it happens sometimes, and I have never worried about it tipping over or the cover cracking.
The water half of the table has little roads with bridges and a ramp, which kids love driving the included boats and added cars under and around, up and down. The water half also has a drain, so when you are done playing you can just pull out the plug and easily drain it without needing to tip over the table or scoop it out. This table also comes with a shovel and two pots for sand play, and an umbrella that goes in the middle. The umbrella is adjustable, so depending on the angle of the sun you can raise or lower it to keep your kids in the shade. The colors on this sand table are nice too if you want something that doesn't stand out as much, they are more muted greens and browns which are more natural looking.
Step2 WaterWheel Activity Play Table
If you want a table just for water play, the Step2 WaterWheel Activity Play Table is great. It is very easy to assemble, and lightweight and easy to move around. It is also small enough that it doesn't take up too much room, but I still found that 3 kids could easily play with it at one time. I also really like this table for the youngest toddlers who are still in the "put-everything-I-touch-in-my-mouth" stage.
It is short enough that they can still reach in and play, but I don't have to worry about them eating the sand. It comes with 2 sail boats, a little pitcher and a water tower, and I also threw in set of funnels and measuring cups and some little plastic fish. The one I had didn't have a plug for draining, but I think the newer version of this table does, but it only holds a couple of gallons of water, so even without the plug it was easy to dump the water out and then refill it again when we were ready to play some more.
Sand and Water Table by Wood Designs
For a more classic, simple sand table, I like the Sand and Water Table by Wood Designs. This table reminds me of the type you see in preschools, it's just a sturdy wooden frame with a rugged 6" deep plastic tray that sets in it. If you have a large space and want something that lots of kids can play in at once, I think this table is a great choice.
Because it's almost 4 feet long it is not one you will probably be moving around a lot, but if you do decide to move it, it has casters on 2 of the legs so you can wheel it around, which is nice. Although the design is very simple compared to the others, sometimes I find simple is better, and gives more options for open-ended play.
Kids Sand and Water Tables
Which table is the best?
© 2013 Bob Miller