A sand and water table is a wonderful outdoor toy for children for sensory and imaginative play. (First published in Jun 2016; this post is regularly updated and republished to keep content current.)
Sand and water tables, tubs, and bins offer a great way for kids of all ages to spend countless hours playing (and learning) while staying cool in the backyard. But please provide adult supervision for toddlers and preschoolers to keep them safe. Here’s a list of the best water tables that make great sensory play tables for kids, with ready-made and DIY sand and water table options for indoor or outdoor use.
Every backyard or patio should have at least one outdoor play area for kids. Sandboxes, water tables, and sand and water tables like those on the list below make excellent options. A few more fantastic options great for providing hours of playtime fun are outdoor chalkboards, fairy gardens, and mud kitchens. Click on the links to learn more about them and how to make your own with the step-by-step DIY project tutorials!
What is a sand and water table?
A sand and water table is a sensory play toy that is most often for outdoor use but can also be used indoors. They primarily have at least two bins. One bin is usually filled with water; the other is filled with sand, hence the name sand and water table. However, they can also be filled with different sensory play materials in place of sand and water in the bins, such as pebbles or water beads.
How to Build a Sand and Water Table
Ever wonder, “How to make a sand and water table?” Most DIY sand and water tables can be made or constructed with plywood or PVC pipes and a few plastic storage bins. For more easy ways to build a sand and water table, complete with detailed instructions, click on the creator of each DIY sand and water table on the list below for the step-by-step tutorial for each project.
What are the benefits of sand and water tables?
The best thing about sand and water tables is that they can keep kids busy for hours learning and having fun! Sand water tables provide several learning benefits to the developing child and can thus aid in the education of young children.
They are primarily used for sensory play, but they can also be used for science projects and pretend or imaginative play. Because they can help children learn to think creatively, build their vocabulary, and work on problem-solving skills.
How much sand do you need for a Sand and Water Sensory Table?
The amount of sand you need will depend on the sand and water table size and the space provided for each sensory play material. We have found that a 50lb bag of play sand is sufficient for most sensory play tables. Some bins will need the whole bag, while others only need a quarter to a half of the bag of play sand. Change out the sand every few months if it gets dirty or if several kids play with it.
The Best DIY Sand Water Tables And Ready-Made Options You Can Buy
Our favorite DIY sand and water table options are listed first, followed by a few inexpensive sand water tables you can buy on Amazon.
1. DIY Sand and Water Table | The House of Wood (Jen Woodhouse)
Here’s an awesome sand and water table with a lid that combines three play spaces into one awesome outdoor toy for kids. We love that this outdoor play table has a waterside, a sand side, and a lid that doubles as an outdoor chalkboard. Get the step-by-step tutorial for this sand water play table HERE.
2. Sand and Water Picnic Table | M. Lankreijer
The directions to make this amazing DIY sand and water picnic table are written in another language, but it is amazing! Children can sit or stand to engage in sensory sand, and water play with plastic toys and water cups. You can find the full tutorial for this sand water picnic table HERE! Alternatively, you can purchase this ready-made sand and water wooden picnic table or this picnic table with an umbrella that can be used for sand and water play.
3. DIY Custom Water Table | Monkey Slaps
This gorgeous DIY water table could easily have a bin full of water, one with sand. And another with river rocks, water beads, or any other sensory play recipe, bin, tray, or tub! While the lids for each bin can be used to cover and protect each sensory play area. See the original photo for this unique water table HERE.
4. DIY Sand and Water Play Table | Jamie Costiglio
You can use the lids for each bin to cover each side of this sand and water play table when it is not in use. Fill one side with a gallon of water and the other with sand or another type of sensory play material. Learn more about how to make this awesome outdoor play table HERE!
5. PVC Pipe Sand Or Water Table | Frugal Fun 4 Boys & Girls
This table is fun for sand OR water play. Using it for both at the same time could be fun too! Get the DIY tutorial HERE!
6. Toddler Sand and Water Table | Boxy Colonial
Here’s another DIY sand table and water table combo children will love, sized at the perfect height for toddlers and preschoolers. (Build the legs longer if you have older children) Simply make one of these for each sensory play space and fill it with sand, water, pebbles, etc. Find the step-by-step directions for this DIY backyard project HERE!
Similar ready-made sand tables and water tables are shown HERE. We like these sand and water bins because each tub has a lid for easy cleanup. The steel legs can be hooked together, or the play bins can be used separately. And, best of all, the legs are fully adjustable. The adjustable legs make it easy to provide the right height for children as they grow from toddlers to teens. These sand and water bin sensory tables come in sets of two or four sensory tubs to create a rectangular or square-shaped sensory play area.
You might also like these sand and water tables with a few play toys and accessories included, such as this four-in-one sand and water activity play table with sand and water play toys for toddlers and preschoolers.
Related: Outdoor Activities for Kids
Best Pre-Made Kids’ Sand and Water Tables to Buy
1. Step2 Sand and Water Table
If you want an inexpensive sand and water table for kids, we recommend THIS cascading cove sand and water table with a cover and umbrella. Below is a photograph of the sand and water play table we purchased when we owned and operated a daycare in our home made by the same company. It is still in excellent condition four years later. Originally this outdoor play table was going to be a placeholder until we made our own. But we still haven’t had the motivation to make one–because this one is holding up so well! So, if you are looking for durability–THIS newer model could be the best sand table for you!
After all these years, you can see the one we purchased (before it had a waterfall) pictured below as dirty as it gets with some of the toys that came with it, a few measuring cups, and a set of CAT mini machines my daughter loves to use for imaginative play in the sand. However, we learned that it’s best to keep it covered when children are not using it to keep the bugs out. Because as you can see in the photograph below, it gets dirty when the cover is left off.
2. Splash and Scoop Bay Sand Water Table by Step2
This all-in-one kids’ sensory table by Step2 features double-sided sand and water play and is fun for the little ones. Attach the water tower to the mountain to create a waterfall splash, or use it directly on the water table base for a cool cascade. It includes a non-leak drain plug to keep water in during playtime. That also makes for easy clean-up when children finish their water playtime fun. Get this ready-made sand and water table HERE.
3. Little Tikes Sand and Water Table
Here’s a collection of sand and water sensory play tables perfect for toddlers and preschoolers. This outdoor toy for kids has a lot of integrated activities to keep children involved in learning through play, making it an excellent sand and water table for toddlers. Get this Little Tikes sand and water table HERE.
Separate Sand Table and Water Sensory Table Options You Can Buy
Another fun idea is to have a separate sand table and water table instead of a singular table with a waterside and a sand side. Use any of the DIY sand table and DIY water table ideas listed above to make your own, or purchase the sand table or sand and water tables on the list below.
Best Kid’s Sand Tables
Step 2 Sand Table
We love the naturally playful kids’ sand table for sand sensory play by Step 2. This kid’s favorite is an elevated sand table that keeps the sand at a convenient level for toddlers and preschoolers. It has an accessory set with two shovels, claw rakes, a bucket, and a protective lid with elastic ties that helps keep sand clean and dry. Get this sand play table HERE! And, if you are looking for classic sandboxes, look at this giant list of the best kids’ sandbox ideas.
Best Sand or Water Sensory Play Table for Indoor Use
Portable Sensory Table on Wheels
Here’s a wooden sensory table with casters, or wheels, to help increase its mobility. This sand or water table is a great addition to any outdoor patio, classroom, daycare, preschool, home, playroom, Montessori, and more. The 6-inch deep plastic tub has enough room to fill with sand, water, & many other types of sensory play materials to help promote learning. The large sensory play bin makes it perfect for a young child’s height, allows children to engage their senses, and provides a hands-on learning experience. And best of all, it features a drain with a valve for quick and easy draining.
Best Kids’ Water Tables
Here are a few more of the best kid’s water tables and splash ponds with easy assembly. These tables will make your backyard or deck into a miniature water park where children will blast as they splish and splash.
1. Little Tikes Play Tables for Outdoor or Indoor Use
The Water Park Play Table by Little Tikes is one of the best kids’ water tables. It has a fun spiraling ball drop and many other features that toddlers and preschoolers love playing with. And it can provide children with hours of sensory water play fun and help them develop their motor skills. Find this fun spiraling ball drop water table HERE. Toddlers, preschoolers, and kindergarteners can improve their fine motor skills, sharing skills, and imagination while having a splashing good time!
2. Step 2 Water Tables
Here are a few more of the best kids’ water tables. The duck dive water tower is a fun sensory water play table from Step 2 that features a multilevel design that helps kids have fun all day! This water table features a 5-piece accessory set with two rubber ducks and one water-squirting frog.
Toddlers and preschoolers can scoop up the water with plastic cups and splash it into the whirlpool water tower to practice pouring and add to the splashing fun. The discovery continues when the water wheel and spinners are activated! And best of all, there is plenty of room for multiple kids to play at this water table, so gather around on a sunny day for some splish-splashing fun!
Another fun two-tier water sensory play table by Step 2 provides a lazy river basin and molded-in roadways, bridges, and loading dock platforms. It also includes four Ball Buddies characters–a train, boat, dump truck, and helicopter! It’s a great toy for pretend play and multi-child social play to teach sharing, taking turns, and patience! Multiple stations and accessories allow kids to play together or independently and experience water play in their own way.
Or, try this Waterfall Discovery Wall by Step 2. Multiple children can play together with the two-sided water wall design. Simply invite toddlers and preschoolers to scoop water from the bottom basin and pour it into the top to start the water maze fun. The Water maze pieces easily move to create a new waterfall of zig-zag STEM play, and it’s easy to clean and disinfect for each use.
A Few More Fantastic Water Sensory Play Tables for Kids You Can Buy
- Little Tikes Fish and Splash Water Table
- Mermaid Island Wavemaker Water Table for Toddlers and Preschoolers
- Kids Waterfall Island Water Activity Play Table
- Little Tikes Frog Pond Water Table
- Easy Fold and Store Water Table by Little Tikes
- Put this carry-and-go water table in the backyard or on a table.
Best Sand Tables and Water Tables for Kids
Sand and Water Tables are so much fun and a great way for kids to learn through play in the backyard or patio. And can keep siblings busy learning and having fun for hours while they stay cool in the backyard.
Sand and water tables are great for sensory and pretend or imaginative play and can help children develop their creativity. But they are also fantastic learning aids for science projects and other fun problem-solving activities.
We hope you enjoyed this collection of sand and water tables for children–DIY or buy one today! Look at this list of DIY calm-down sensory bottles for more DIY sensory play ideas.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!
More Outdoor Play Areas Kids Will LOVE!
Here are a few more of the best kids’ outdoor play spaces that children from toddlers to teens enjoy:
- Outdoor Chalkboard
- How to Make a Fairy Gardens
- Best Backyard Sandboxes
- How to Grow a Sunflower House
- DIY Mud Kitchen
If you liked These Outdoor Play Tables, You Might Also Like:
- Spring Nature Table Ideas
- Summer Nature Table Ideas
- 15 Backyard Pallet Projects
- Calm Down Sensory Bottles 101
- Outdoor Kids Activities