Ada’s Sensory Table

As I had mentioned before, for Ada’s first birthday Tom and I created a sensory table for her. It was a pretty easy DIY job, and Ada’s enjoyed it so far.

Since spring was (theoretically) around the corner (this is Minnesota after all), we planned on keeping the sensory table outside on our covered balcony during the warm months in order to keep the indoor mess to a minimum. If Ada’s still into it in the fall, we can bring it inside and deal with the mess.

We had an old mid-century coffee table that frankly wasn’t working for me anymore. It had these Edward Scissorhands-ish scratches when we bought it off Craigslist, which always gave me the heebies. Although it was the perfect height for Ada to stand at, its proportions just didn’t work with our couch and blocked the flow in our living area. Since it was a good height for Ada, we decided to hack it up for her sensory table.

Also notice the dramatic teething marks on that baby. There are identical ones from Scout’s puppyhood on the legs of the table, too.

Probably the biggest drama of this whole thing was choosing the right plastic bin to stick inside, which I could remove and wash if necessary). Tom kept going out and buying bins that were too small, and despite my insistence that “This is your thing…you can figure it out how to make it,” I kept nixing his bins (charming wife, I know). We finally decided that a bin that was already hanging out under our bed would work out just great.

So Tom traced the bin and cut it out using a small handsaw on our balcony, which took him about 20 minutes.

Scout is such a good foreman. Then we decided to paint the top in a light blue color to make it look a little more kid-friendly.

Et voila! Sensory table made. Ada tested it out with some keys prior to her birthday (because you can’t really hide such a big gift when you live in an apartment, so it sat out in our living room).

I hit up the dollar store bins at Target for some various tools. Since it’s gardening season, I was able to get a kid-sized trowel and hoe, as well as a strainer, baster brush, spatula and two small tumblers.

Ada’s first time using it was with water on a steamy day, and she liked it a good amount, although all she really wanted to just dump water all over her body.

Today we whipped out some oats, most of which also ended up the balcony floor. Scout was on oat patrol, which calmed my nerves about us being dive-bombed by some circling crows.

It was an exercise in me chilling out and not trying to keep everything neat and picked up all at once. I even let Ada dig in some of our pots on the balcony…this is new territory for me.


So that was our easy peasy sensory table, which all told probably cost us around $15. I’m looking forward to using ice cubes, various things we find on our walks (sticks, grass, leaves) and maybe something squishy I can conjure up. Any other ideas for materials that can get Ada as messy/giddy as possible?

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