Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to Make and Use a Touch Table (without a huge mess)

Yes, you can use any container in lieu as a "sensory table", sand/water table or, as we like to call it, a touch table. It's also very nice to have it up a little for toddlers to stand at and for parents and older children to sit on the floor at. I came up with this very cheap, very easy way to make touch tables for our church preschool. They are light, portable, pretty sturdy and easy to use.
First we took Ikea end tables - (cost 7.99) we like the red but they come in a lot of colors. Then we bought this set of tubs. (cost - about 12.oo/pc.) These are a great size - plenty big for several children and an adult to play at the same time. It sounds pricey but you get 4 and they've held up great and are big enough for a toddler or two to get inside and play. Something similar would be great. You can then attach the tub to the table with two strips of sticky back velcro (using the soft side on the tub in case you want to use it on the carpet as well). You can also make a "table top" to put on the end table when you're not using the touch table (cheap foam board - $ store or laminated poster board cut to fit). You could even attach a checker board/chess board (or draw on to the "table top" a particular game).
I think the best way to cut the mess is to train kiddos that what's in the touch table has to stay in the touch table or it has to be put away or they have to walk away for awhile. It also works best to start with something fun but low mess and work up. Using large pom-poms or blocks first and then trying a small amount of water (with eye droppers, funnels, spoons, whisks and/or measuring cups and spoons) seems to work well for preschoolers. The sky is the limit for what you can put in it. My faves are rice and beans (at Aldi I can buy enough of either to fill it for $5). I've also used cheap salt in place of sand (it's fun to write in).

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