Are you looking for a new toy to help your growing child have fun while developing critical cognitive skills? A water table is a great choice!
Water tables are great ways to keep cool outdoors in the summer, but many can be moved indoors for rainy day play as well. They provide hours of fun, but don’t worry about a mess. Many models come with drainage valves for quick and easy cleanup, and most plugs are sturdy enough that only a grownup can release them.
Water tables are educational tools as well, helping your child’s developing brain, and even fostering social skills! They’re a versatile toy to help your child learn through the power of play.
What to Look for in a Water Table
Water tables are just what they sound like—they are tubs, typically on raised platforms, that can fill with water for water play. Specific models have an area for sand, as well. Some come loaded with features, while others are open and spacious.
Water tables come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. So how do you know what to look for to find the best water table for your little one? Kids will naturally gravitate towards different styles of play, depending on where they are in their development. So the first thing to look for is whether or not the water table is age-appropriate to engage your child fully.
Here are several other factors to consider when shopping for a kid’s water table, such as:
- How large is it?– That is important both in terms of room to play and accessibility. Make sure the table isn’t too high off the ground for your little one.
- Is there a game included? – Some water tables include a structured game. Others are simply open tubs for imaginative play.
- Are there accessories included? – Some come with water toys so your child can begin to play as soon as the table is set up. With others, toys are sold separately.
- What is it made out of? – Your new water table is sure to be a popular toy with your child. So be sure to look for sturdy materials capable of standing up to natural wear and tear.
- Is it made for indoor or outdoor play?
- Is it portable?
Why Buy a Water Table?
First things first, water tables are tons of fun! But that’s not all. Water tables can be educational tools that support cognitive development in young children. Learning through play is incredibly powerful, and one of the best ways for kids to learn new skills and have them stick.
Water tables provide a soothing, sensory-oriented experience. And they help foster development of fine motor skills, spatial reasoning, cause and effect relationships, and more. Many have specific educational games built-in, to encourage learning about letters and numbers, for example.
They’re also perfect for play dates, as they encourage sharing and parallel play. That will help foster your child’s burgeoning social skills. This is one of the most critical areas of early childhood development, and it can be challenging to find opportunities for your toddler to play with other children before they reach school age.
Water tables are also a great way to spend time outside in the hot summer months. They’re a focused outdoor activity, with cool water to help your child beat the heat. Plus, several come with a built-in umbrella, or even sprinklers to make staying cool even easier.
I. Best Water and Sand Tables
Water tables with sand enhance your child’s overall sensory experience. Here are our favorite models:
1. Weplay Sand and Water Table
Weight: 20 lbs
The Weplay Sand and Water Table is an accessible sensory table for kids of all ages. The table’s legs are adjustable to match your child’s height. The table is see-through to engage children’s sense of sight along with their sense of touch. And the lightweight tub removes from the frame for easy cleaning.
|Mobile frame||Adjustable height|
|Removable tub||Transparent design|
|Easy drainage system|
2. Step2 Cascading Cove Sand and Water Table
Weight: 21.8 lbs
Step2 is one of the most trusted names in the water table industry, known for high quality, competitively priced products. The Cascading Cove Sand and Water Table is no exception. The table is double-sided, with one basin for sand and the other for water. Plus, the lid doubles as an activity table, so there are lots of different ways to play.
|Two basin design for sand and water play||Drainage plugs on each side|
|Elastic ties to make sure lid stays secure||Lid doubles as an activity table|
3. Step2 Splash and Scoop Bay Sand and Water Table
Weight: 11.5 lbs
The Step2 Splash and Scoop Bay Sand and Water Table is a dual-sided water and sand table with an interactive lid that can cover one side at a time. The lid is part of the fun and can combine with the tower to create a waterfall mountain. The table also comes with seven different accessories included, so your child will be ready to play the moment the table is set up.
|Two basin design for sand and water play||Drain plug included|
|Convertible lid||Seven accessories included|
II. Best Water Tables for Toddlers
There are water tables made for kids of all ages. These are our favorite water tables for toddlers:
1. Little Tikes Fish 'n Splash Water Table
Weight: 9 lbs
Little Tikes Fish ‘n Splash Water Table is a fun, simple fishing game with more accessories than meets the eye. Fishing for five included creatures with a fishing pole or a net, your toddler can develop their counting and fine motor skills. And there are two different fun ways to put the fish back in the table: fill the fishbowl at the top until it tips over, and the fish come tumbling down or fling them back in with the plastic catapult.
|7-gallon tank||Fishing rod, fishing net, and five fish included|
|No tools required for assembly||Easy drainage plug|
|Note – small pieces, be sure to supervise closely while your toddler plays|
2. Step2 Tropical Rainforest Water Table
Weight: 16.6 lbs
The Step2 Tropical Rainforest Water Table is a two-tiered sensory table, with a treetop basin above, and a larger tub below. Pour water in the treetop basin, and it will come showering down like real rain. Attached accessories and water wheels also help your toddler learn about cause and effect.
|Two-tiered water basins||Rainfall effect|
|13 accessories included||Attached water wheels|
3. Zooawa Mini Fishing Game Water Table
Weight: 1.2 lbs
The Zooawa Mini Fishing Game is a small, compact toy perfect for families with limited space. But it packs a lot into that small space! This fishing game water table comes with two fishing rods, several magnetized sea creatures, and a light-up lighthouse that plays music at the press of a button!
|Two fishing rods and several magnetized fish included||Light-up lighthouse plays music|
|Small electric turbine causes water to flow gently through the tank||Batteries required|
|Note – small pieces, be sure to supervise closely while your toddler plays|
III. Best Water Tables for Older Kids
These are our favorite water tables for kids four and up:
1. Little Tikes Fountain Factory Water Table
Weight: 10.4 lbs
The Little Tikes Fountain Factory Water Table is a large, seven-gallon water table that encourages hands-on STEM learning. Thirteen interchangeable pipes and faucets connect to the central fountain, allowing for endless combinations. It also comes with a boat, a cup, and a funnel.
|Seven-gallon tub||Interchangeable pipe system|
|Accessories included||Easy drainage plug|
2. Little Tikes Spiralin' Seas Water Table
Weight: 11.9 lbs
The Little Tikes Spiralin’ Seas Water Table is a large, interactive water table with many ways to play. It comes with five round characters that shoot water, and a number of different features with which your child can play with them. They can drop them down the spiral tower or send them for a ride around the Ferris wheel. Plus, there’s a twin water wheel feature your child can activate by pouring water down a funnel.
|Spiral Tower||Ferris Wheel|
|Five character balls||Cup included|
|Easy drainage plug|
3. SplashEZ 3-in-1 Splash Pad
Weight: 1.65 lbs
The SplashEZ 3-in-1 Splash Pad is a summer classic, with a twist! The sprinklers and shallow splash pad allow for fun outdoor water play. And the base is actually a learning mat, to help foster an interactive learn-through-play experience. The SplashEZ Splash Pad is manufactured with no harmful chemicals, so you can be confident that your child will be safe while they play.
|Sprinkler system||Shallow inflatable pool/splash pad|
|Three different options for learning mat base|
IV. Best Large Water Tables
These super-sized water tables are great for families with multiple children, and can even be used in classrooms:
1. Constructive PlayThings Sand and Water Table
Weight: 33.3 lbs
The Constructive PlayThings Sand and Water Table is a sturdy sizeable table designed for indoor and outdoor use. Lockable casters on one side allow the table to be locked in place. The sturdy lid also functions as a dry erase board, providing another creative way for your child to express themselves.
|Sturdy resin and rubber construction||Dry-erase lid|
|Side trays for storage||Locking casters|
2. edx Education Sand and Water Table
Weight: 39.7 lbs
The edx Education Sand and Water Table features a galvanized steel frame and a large, injection-molded plastic tub for tactile sand water play. The frame is adjustable, ranging from 15 inches to 24 inches high. Cleaning is easy with the quick-release drainage plug.
|Adjustable frame||Large injection-molded tub|
|Quick-release plug||Solid plastic cover|
3. Children's Factory Extra Large Sensory Table
Weight: 34.6 lbs
The Children’s Factory Extra Large Sensory Table lives up to its name. The tank is enormous and has room for up to five children to play at once. It’s attached to a portable steel frame with casters on all four legs; two of the casters lock for stability.
|Extra-large tank||Solid steel frame|
|Lockable casters||Single drainage plug|
The Final Word
Water tables are excellent toys that promote social and cognitive development in young children. There is an immense number of different models available on the internet, all with different strengths and weaknesses. If you follow this guide, you’ll be able to shop confidently and find the water table that is the right fit for you and your family.
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