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Activities for Your Toddler’s Water Table

A water table is a great platform for exploring sensory experiences, experimenting with cause and effect, and refining motor skills by pouring and scooping. 

You can buy a molded plastic water table that comes with built-in widgets that spin and tilt, or you can use a simple storage bin on top of a low outdoor table. Or just put it on the ground!

Finally, IKEA makes an activity table that can be used for water, too!

The FLISAT table from IKEA with TROFAST storage bins inserted | Photo: @bringingupbabe

Water Table Play Ideas for Toddlers

Sponge Bombs

These DIY sponge water bombs from @polishedplayhouse are easier to make than they look and are a super fun way to cool off with your toddler! Simply gather a few sponges of different colors and cut each of them into eight strips of equal size. Bunch the strips together and secure them in the middle with an elastic. Place them in water and, voilà! Your toddler is armed and ready to play!

Water play for toddlers

Botanical Play

Looking for ways to incorporate nature into your water activities? Try a sensory table with flowers and water! Provide pitchers and funnels to give your child an opportunity to explore fine motor skills like pouring and transferring. They are also a great way to encourage your child’s creative skills. @bringupbabe notes that she gave her daughter no prior instructions for this activity, and Babe surprised her by “transferring water into jars,” using the scoop to “transfer flowers to the ice cube tray.” Babe even made imaginary “chicken soup” with the flowers! Oftentimes, simple activities like this are the best way to get your child’s creative juices flowing!

Citrus Water Table

A touch of citrus is the perfect addition to your summer sensory bin! Simply add lemon slices to a large tray filled with water and place an empty bowl or tray next to it. Provide your child with a tool to transfer, such as tongs or a scoop, and watch as they transfer lemon slices back and forth.

Ocean Sensory Tray

The classic summer setup! Fill a large tray with water dyed blue (or for a fun alternative shaving cream dyed blue), ocean animals, and some aquarium accessories (plants, rocks, shells, etc.)

Garden Potion 

Lead your little ones around the garden or a forest trail and collect leaves, flowers, herbs, and anything they want to make their potion with! Use a mortar and pestle to mash up the herbs and leaves as desired and pour water into the mixture. Sprinkle the flowers on top and voila- a potion! This is a great way to spark your child’s imagination- the potion could be a love potion, a sleepy potion, a smart potion- you name it! Mashing up the ingredients, pouring water, and mixing the potion are also great ways to practice fine motor skills.

The Land of Misfit Toys

To make, simply fill a big bucket with water and add small plastic or silicon toys. (Animals, vehicles, anything that will be okay in water!) Provide your child with tools such as a ladle, spoon, or a big jar to scoop and transfer the toys. 

Tapioca Pearl Water Beads

Tapioca pearls (aka boba) are a great taste-safe alternative to water beads. They can be dyed with food coloring and added to water for your toddler to play with. This idea comes from @inspired_little_learners. Your little one will enjoy exploring and experimenting with the texture of these pearls. To prepare them, cook tapioca pearls in water for 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water and add your food coloring of choice! Let them sit for about 20 more minutes- rinse one more time and then enjoy!

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