Sensory tables are a wonderful addition to any child’s toy collection. We have had our sensory table for just over a year now (since Bryce was almost one-and-a-half-years-old). Honestly, it is probably one of my—and his— favorite toys (Notice I did not say easiest toys). It is so versatile and can keep the little guy entertained for long periods of time. We have enjoyed everything from cotton balls to snow to beans, with many different types of “accessories” to play with including scoops, funnels, wooden spoons and cars.
Recently, a friend and I were chatting about my sensory table. Her son is exactly one year younger (exact same date, just minutes apart) than Bryce. She mentioned that she didn’t think her son would do very well with one. She said her son is just way too messy while Bryce is so clean. I had to laugh at the assumption—to think we have never had a mess from our sensory table! I explained that while it may seem like he is reasonably clean now, things haven’t always been that way, nor are they always that way.
When introducing the sensory table to Bryce, we spent time demonstrating how to play with his new toy. We focused on keeping the contents inside the bin and cleaning up those that did fall out. He even has a child sized broom and a Dirt Devil Hand Vacuum he uses for when things get a little out of control. We are consistent when it comes to cleaning up after himself, and this goes for not only sensory table play, but also for everything we do.
Although it may seem like a never-ending task to ensure that he cleans up after himself (and occasionally a never-ending battle to actually finish the cleaning), I know that in the end he will get better at cleaning up after himself and as this article articulates, there are many cognitive, linguistic, social-emotional, physical and creative skills to be learned through fun and engaging sensory play!
For me, the gains outweigh the mess. Bring on the sensory play!!