Best Choice Products 3-in-1 Outdoor Picnic & Sensory Table
Last updated date: October 30, 2020
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We looked at the top Sensory Tables and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Sensory Table you should buy.
Update as October 30, 2020:
Checkout The Best Sensory Table for a detailed review of all the top sensory tables.
This bench-like play table includes an umbrella to protect young heads from too much sun. The table itself can be adapted into a sandbox, water table or picnic area. The wood materials make it a durable choice.
In our analysis of 50 expert reviews, the Best Choice Products 3-in-1 Outdoor Picnic & Sensory Table placed 7th when we looked at the top 10 products in the category. For the full ranking, see below.
From The Manufacturer
3-IN-1 DESIGN: This multipurpose picnic table set has a removable tabletop section with a small sandbox and water tub underneath, so kids can build mini sand castles or catch pretend fish
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An Overview On Sensory Tables
The first few years of a child’s life aren’t just the cutest ones. Behind all that laughter and shouting and yes, all that chaos, your kids are learning. They’re learning constantly, and what looks like toy abuse to you is actually the beginning stages of fine motor control development. When they smack your best pots and pans with whatever blunt instrument they can find, they’re making connections between their actions and the sounds they hear.
All this is to say that when it comes to your pre-schoolers, you may not want to waste too much money on expensive tablets and alphabet apps — or at least don’t make those the only “educational” toys that your child uses. Most childhood therapists agree that simple, unstructured play can do a world of good for a little one’s physical, mental and emotional development. And one of the best focal points for that is a sensory table.
What is a sensory table? Essentially, it’s a play space that incorporates substances like sand or water and/or objects of various shapes and consistencies. That means that any table can be a sensory table if you put the right materials on it. You can even make a kid-sized one at home if you’re feeling ambitious and you’ve got a little space where toddlers can make a mess. But even the least expensive commercial sensory tables are ready-made for tiny hands and can offer some extra bells and whistles to keep kids’ interest as they grow older.
The simplest sensory tables might be nothing more than a plastic bin mounted on table legs — and that’s perfectly fine. Fill that bin with sand, pasta, rice, soil or dough (to name just a few) and you’ve got an environment that’s just as appealing to curious kids as a day at the beach. Toss in a few implements such as scoops or buckets and your kids will learn about concepts like volume and weight all by themselves. You can even make little scenarios for your older, speaking age children by adding buried “treasure” and daring them to find it.
More complex sensory tables might incorporate slides, gears or simple puzzles, which can be great as kids grow older. Just make sure that it’s not too busy if you’re buying it for very young children. Some kids can get frustrated quickly if they can’t move an object easily along the track that it’s meant to go on. Again, embrace the chaos and make sure it has a little space set aside for that all-important unstructured play.
There’s also an entire sub-category of sensory tables dedicated to water. These water tables can be particularly great in the hot summer months, and the best ones offer the same opportunities for learning and exploration. Many might have slides or waterfall effects that encourage kids to discover cause and effect relationships, and you can add bathtub or pool toys for extra fun. Some are clearly designed to be used with water only, while others can be filled with water, sand or whatever material your child likes to get messy with. If it’s a dedicated water table, a spigot or other valve mechanism near the base can be a big time-saver when it’s time to clean up.
Obviously, any table with sand or water on it will need to be placed outside, or at least in a patio with flooring that won’t be harmed by the inevitable splashes. With that in mind, durability becomes all the more important. That’s the case for any toddler’s toy, but sensory tables will need to stand up to the elements and abrasion as well as the usual rough handling. If your table is plastic, make sure the components are well secured. If it’s wood, make sure that it’s weather treated and finished to prevent any splinters in those tiny hands. A big bonus for summer playtime is an umbrella, which can be installed in some water tables.
If you’ve got enough space in the car, a portable sensory table can be just the thing to occupy youngsters on picnics or other family outings. Many plastic tables can be easily disassembled for on the go fun — just make sure you bring along a screwdriver or any other tools you might need for reassembly.
Toy storage is an issue for many parents, and a sensory table can help with that. Look for tables that might have shelves underneath where you can put outdoor toys or other accessories. Some sensory tables even have a tabletop that doubles as a lid. Just top off the sensory bin with the toys inside and it’s ready for play the next day.
The Sensory Table Buying Guide
What should you put into your sensory table? The possibilities are almost endless. Some common picks for a “dry” table are sand, rice, uncooked pasta, oatmeal and even shaving cream. Feel free to combine some if you’re using it exclusively for the table. Water tables can obviously be filled with water, but that doesn’t have to be the only thing. Sand can be added to allow the children to create their own “islands,” for example.
Into this mix you can add any number of toys, as long as they’re water or sand-proof. Scoops, shovels and pails are some obvious picks, as are funnels, toy animals, sticks, cars or boats. Just make sure that you leave plenty of room for kids to use their imagination, and remember that a sensory table doesn’t have to stimulate only one sense. Go ahead and add some drumming instruments, bells or containers that can become sand shakers.
With that in mind, use caution with very young children that will want to explore one sense in particular: taste. It usually won’t take long for them to discover that they don’t want to eat sand, but some parents may want to fill the sensory table with edible materials just in case.
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