We often think of the sensory table as holding objects that the children manipulate but are unchanging without the children present. If you’ve got a 2-year-old in your life you know they are fascinated by running water. One option is to let them play in the sink. But sometimes that’s not desirable or you’re looking for something a little different. So why not add a little running water to your sensory table?
Here I’ve moved our sensory table to be nearer to the sink than it normally is. We have guttering outside in the sand areas so kids can build water paths, so we cleaned some off and used duct tape to attach it to our classroom faucet. We tried propping it up, but the kids kept knocking it over when they tried to put things in it. Our classroom is lucky enough to have a second sink nearby, so we were still able to easily keep hands clean while we had our gutter.
Along with typical water stuff we also supplied different kinds of floating and sinking balls that they could roll down the gutter. They tried putting just about everything small that was in the room (not just balls) down the gutter and got a good sense of what would work and what wouldn’t. We talked about floating, sinking, rolling, sliding, friction, size, and weight, among other things.
The tricky thing with this setup is the drain. We had to keep an eye on the water level to make sure that it got drained frequently. If you’re doing this outside with a hose, just set your drain to let water out as the water comes in. Otherwise, an adult with a bucket has to be on standby most of the time. The kids enjoyed helping to drain the table, so we never reached overflow. I also recommend keeping the water flow small. If you’re outside, go for a higher flow or let the kids control the flow.
If you’re at home, rig up something that goes from your sink to somewhere else, maybe the floor with some towels. You can use a small hose, some gutter, or plastic tubing. Outside is probably the best place for home water play, but the tub is a viable option as well though not as novel.