The 9 Best Sand Tables
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in August of 2015. Let your little ones enjoy the excitement of the beach without leaving home with one of these sand tables. Their sturdy legs make them easy for one or more toddlers to enjoy for hours of play, and some also feature separate compartments for water, providing twice the fun. Many also have convenient drain plugs and tight-fitting, protective covers for when they’re not in use. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
April 07, 2020:
These sand tables bring kids the fun of a sandbox, but at a slightly elevated level that’s great for toddlers to gather around as they make sandcastles and dig for treasure. Many, like the Step2 Cascading Cove and the Children's Factory Neptune, also double as water tables for twice the fun.
In today’s update, we added the Little Tikes Sandy Lagoon, which is also equipped with a dedicated water compartment, and kids can have fun sending the two included figurines down the waterslides, place them in the floating inner tubes, and launch them off the diving boards. It’s a cinch to assemble, and the sturdy cover stays put, even on windy days.
We also added in a couple of Step2 models, which are made in the USA and full of bright, cheery colors sure to attract the attention of little ones. The Step2 Fiesta Cruise is modeled after a deluxe cruise ship that features a pool with multiple waterslides and a fun rain shower component. The sandbox component conveniently can be covered up when not in use with a part of the ship. Included is a 10-piece accessory set with a cup and a small dinghy. Speaking of accessories, the Step2 Splash N Scoop Bay comes with lots of fun components like a shark scoop, a bucket, and an attachable tower that can be used for an exciting waterfall splash. While it doesn’t come with an umbrella, you can add your own easily, since it features a hole for one.
The Constructive Playthings Indoor and Outdoor is made for use either indoors or outdoors, with casters that make it a breeze to move back and forth. This practical choice also comes with a dry-erase surface on its white cover, so it can be used as a drawing space, which comes in handy in your classroom or home, especially during winter months.
As with any kids' toy, be sure to follow the manufacturer's age-related guidelines, and also supervise children at all times for safe play.
Kaplan Play Table Good for kids aged three and up, this sturdy choice features a 9-inch-deep plastic tub with a drain and a two-piece lid that hooks on the side when children are busy at work. It’s got handles on each end and four heavy-duty casters that make for easy portability. Designed for indoor use, it’s made of lovely birch wood and requires minor assembly. It’s good for activities involving either sand or water, and is backed by a generous five-year warranty. kaplanco.com
Playworld Sand & Water Table If you’re designing a playground, adding this customized sand and water table will bring hours of enjoyment to young children. You can choose the plastic colors and go with either one or two posts. It features a drain plug with a cap that’s easy to screw on and off. Its two multifunctional bin covers offer one flat tabletop side for crafts, and another with a grooved design for water play. It’s large enough to be used by up to 11 children at once. playworld.com
Sand Tables: Stimulating Young Minds
Through interactive play, they’ll explore concepts like counting, grouping, and measuring as they familiarize themselves with the basics of experimentation and engineering.
At its most basic level, a sand table is a low-sitting structure that holds one or more containers filled with sand. Like a sandbox, you typically load it with items children can use — such as scoops, toy trucks, boats, measuring cups, mini umbrellas, and watering pots — to engage with the sand and other elements in the table.
Many of today’s models are a bit more advanced than a simple box of sand, featuring basins for water and additional play areas. They vary significantly in size and style, but they’re all designed with one primary goal in mind: to encourage hands-on learning and development in children.
Whether you’re preparing a preschool classroom for a new year or decking out a recreation area in the basement or the backyard, a quality sand table can serve as the cornerstone of your operation.
It gives young kids the chance to explore, observe, and experiment — and because their activities allow them to take initiative and make their own decisions, it can help build self-esteem, as well. This type of play stimulates all the senses, but it really enables children to explore their sense of touch.
Through carrying, sifting, molding, and pouring, youngsters develop fine motor skills, improve hand-eye coordination, and cultivate creativity and artistic tendencies. The whole process is constructive — when they struggle to accomplish what they intend to do, they develop emotional strength, while success breeds self-confidence.
The benefits aren’t limited to mental or social skills either; kids can gain knowledge of mathematics and science, as well. Through interactive play, they’ll explore concepts like counting, grouping, and measuring as they familiarize themselves with the basics of experimentation and engineering.
For preschool teachers, a sand table is a valuable classroom asset. You can use it as a tool to teach the skills and concepts listed above, and it's useful for observing students as they interact with both the objects in the box and other children.
Consider The Contents And Design
Before you select a model, assess your specific situation. Will it be indoors or outside? Will it hold water? If inside, how large is the room? If it’s for a classroom, how many children will be using it? How old are they?
A sturdy, durable construction is a must. The frame and legs should be stout enough to prevent a handful of kids pushing and pulling on it from tipping it over. Additionally, try to find a model with rounded edges for safety — if the table harbors a hidden sharp corner or a particularly rough surface, you can be sure a curious, energetic young child will find it.
Though the table will likely include an assortment of ancillary items for children to play with, it’s simple enough to add your own to the mix.
If it's located indoors, some level of messiness is a foregone conclusion, but you’ll make your life easier if you position your table on a tile or wooden floor. Locating your table near a sink will make for a more convenient cleanup process, as well.
If you’re considering models with water tubs, look for one with a valve underneath for efficiently emptying liquids. A table with casters or wheels is ideal for those of you who know you’ll want to move it around frequently.
If teaching is your primary goal, make sure to go with a table that’s designed to help kids reach specific learning milestones. It should include strategic objects that will help foster creativity, the development of certain skills, and the accumulation of knowledge.
Though the table will likely include an assortment of ancillary items for children to play with, it’s simple enough to add your own to the mix. Pitchers, spray bottles, cookie cutters, and tongs are a few popular examples that help drive engagement and activity. Just make sure all the items are clean and large enough to not be a choking hazard.
A model with a solid removable lid is preferable, especially if you're setting the table up outdoors, in which case a built-in umbrella is a useful feature, as well. Many options include trays and racks for holding items when they’re not in use, and some offer detachable legs to simplify storing the table itself.
A Fully Furnished Preschool Or Play Room
Regardless of where you’ve set up your sand table, it will only occupy the kiddos’ attention for so long. If you want to keep them engaged for extended periods of time, it would be wise to populate the room with a variety of supplies to encourage development in other important areas.
While play items like Lego sets and building blocks aid in enhancing fine motor skills and problem-solving capabilities, they also have a proven track record as a highly entertaining activity for young children.
Regardless of where you’ve set up your sand table, it will only occupy the kiddos’ attention for so long.
Few methods for invoking creativity are as simple and effective as an old-fashioned art kit or coloring book. The same goes for Play-Doh sets, which allow kids to use their hands to shape and mold the flexible compound in any fashion they choose, limited only by their imaginations.
Little ones often like to imitate their parents, which is likely why mini kitchen sets seem to be so effective in sparking their curiosity. Child-sized work benches serve a similar purpose, giving kids the opportunity to “fix” things as they increase their strength and learn new skills.
Literacy is the foundation of education, which is why you can never introduce children to reading too early. By filling a small book rack with simple stories, alphabet sets, and writing journals, you’ll give the youngsters a head start on developing one of life’s most important skills.
Despite its importance in a child’s growth, one sense we haven’t touched on much yet is sound, which is something you can address easily with a simple music kit. Little ones can begin exploring rhythm with basic percussion instruments like a drum, triangle, cowbell, tambourine, and maracas — and probably have a blast in the process.
A play table is a more generic version of a sand table in that it can cater to a wide range of different activities, from simulating the construction of a town to creating art or music.