Sensory tables are great. You can introduce your littles to new and messy textures without worrying about the mess.
The bad news about sensory tables is they aren’t cheap, they take up a lot of space when not in use, and can be cumbersome to clean.
The great news is I found a way that you (or your handy/not-so-handy husband) can build one in less than 30 minutes and for about $30.
Are you up for it? Let’s do it!
Here’s what you’ll need to tackle this project:
Saw, Miter Box (optional, but helpful), Tape Measure, Marker
You’re almost sure to find everything you need at your local hardware store. Note that all of the connectors should have a slip fitting, not threaded. This will ensure that everything will simply push together. (Prices may vary due to location.)
|1 –||Sterilite 28-quart storage box (23-1/2″ x 17″ x 6″)||$4.94|
|5 –||3/4” x 5 feet PVC pipe||$1.63 each|
|8 –||3/4” PVC side outlet elbow/3-way connector||$1.60 each|
|2 –||3/4” PVC tee||$0.47 each|
|2 –||3/4” PVC elbow||$0.36 each|
|Total Cost Before Tax:||$27.55|
(Never mind the extra pipe and unnecessary bag of couplers in the picture. My husband got a little carried away at the hardware store. You know how that is.)
STEP 1: Cut all of your pieces.
5 – 14-1/4”
4 – 18-1/4” or to your desired height. These are your uprights customized for your child’s height.
STEP 3: Put it all together. Seriously, it’s that easy. Don’t use any adhesive, so you’ll be able to take it apart when you’re done with it.
We wanted some extra support on the bottom, so all of the weight was not resting on the rim. Depending on what you put in your sensory bins or how rough your kids get you might need the additional reinforcement. So we added the extra cross piece.
Now, your sensory table is ready to roll.
BONUS: Your table collapses all the way down so you can store all of the parts within the box when you’re done with it. (Of course, if you make your table taller the legs may not fit.)
DOUBLE BONUS: At only $5 or $6 for the storage box you can put together multiple sensory experiences and stack them away when not in use.
Follow A Teaching Mommy’s board Sensory Play on Pinterest.
What are you going to put in your sensory table?
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Love that it all packs into the storage bin!
I know! I was very excited about that as well. We didn’t plan for it, but discovered it after we put it together!
This is brilliant! So much better than the wooden one we made. Brilliant, I say!!!
This is such a great idea!! I wonder if I could get the pipe cut at the store. I don’t think anyone in my family is qualified to saw 🙂
You should totally market this on Etsy or somewhere. I’m betting parents would love to buy a “ready-made” kid like this. Awesome work!
Ha, ha! I’m not sure if they’ll cut PVC pipe at the store, they might. I know they’ll cut wood. It’s definitely worth checking. Let me know what you find out.
Thanks @Louise! I’ve never sold anything through Etsy. Have you?
No, I haven’t. I’m trying to think of a place where you could sell them. Maybe kids consignment sales or something? Seriously it’s a great product!
Do you know you can get pliers specifically made to cut PVC pipe at Home Depot? 🙂 This is a great idea – thanks for sharing!
This is amazing! I have an 8 mo old that would get tons of use out of this over the next few years! Thank you!
How tall would you suggest making the table for a typical 5 year old? I am going to make this for my kindergarten classroom, and I want my 5 year olds to be able to comfortable stand at the sensory table!
I’m having a really hard time finding the 3 way connectors with the slip fitting. Checked a bunch of places- home depot, lowes, ace hardware. Anyone have any advice on where I can get them?
Our local Lowes carried them. I will put out a Facebook post to see if anyone found them some where else.
Thanks so much for replying! After calling every hardware store in my area, I found one Lowe’s that had them. None of the others did, but that particular store had them in stock. It seems to be the only one. Thank you for checking for me! 🙂
Also, for anyone who is looking to use this in a Kindergarten classroom, I just built mine and tested it out with a 5-year old, and 24 inches seems to be the perfect height!
My 16-year old son just made this for my 2-year old. It was super-easy to make and she LOVES it. Thanks for the great idea and directions.
Awesome! So glad she loves it! Did your son enjoy putting it together?
Thanks for sharing that info Megan! I hadn’t had time to measure my 6 year old yet. I appreciate that you took the time to come back and let us know.
You’re very welcome Shelly! What are you planning to put in it?
Just recently made this for my school counseling office. I, too, had trouble finding the right 3 way connectors but found some with one side threaded. We were able to buy an adapter for the threaded sides and it worked great!
Ruthie Haugh says
I made this today and it was so easy! Thanks so much! I got almost everything at lowes (except the sterilite container) they were super helpful and cut everything for me! I love it!
I’m wondering if the measurements of the laundry sorter with two mesh bags is comparable. My laundry sorter is made exactly like this with a straight bar through the middle of the top. If I just changed that part maybe it would work. Except I’m sure the measurements would never work because that’s too easy Lol.
Let me know if it works! I’m all for finding time savers!!
Stephanie Almasy says
LOVE the easy breakdown and storage this offers! I’m homeschooling our 4yo b/g twins this year in our little house. This is perfect to use for weekly themes and put away when not in use. You’re so smart! 😉
(Next week I’m doing a farm theme. So we’ll be playing with our Little People farm animals in oats!)
Stephanie Almasy says
Aaaaaand, make it a light table!!!!!
Thanks so much for this! I am a COTA doing OT in schools and I’m on a budget… Made this today and it is awesome!
You are very welcome! I’m glad you like and hope it works well for you in your schools.
Je suis française pouvez-vous me donner les dimensions en cm pour fabriquer la table?
Encore bravo et merci pour le partage
Great idea !!!
I ‘m French can you give me the dimensions in cm to make the table?
Again, congratulations and thank you for sharing
Here in Canada they don’t make the fancy corners in 3/4 inch and it took a lot of phone calls to find a store that would special order in the 1/2 size…we are going ahead anyway. If the 1/2 inch is not strong enough I guess we will have to take a trip to the States and find the closes Lowes 🙂
Bummer. Let me know how it works out.
Follow up to the person who said you can’t get 3/4 inch elbows with side outlet in Canada. You seriously can’t. Every other component you can get EXCEPT that. Not even in any other pipe diameter. I found one site that would sell you 10 for triple the price that they cost in the states. (Lee Valley is the site). Luckily I can see America from my house so I’ll drive the 5 minutes over the border, but still. .. Canadians be forewarned!
check out Lee Valley hardware. I bought all the fittings there. in the gardening dept.
Thanks for tip!
What are the additional pieces that I’ll need to make sure that we have the support bar across the middle? Or are those pieces included in the list at the beginning of the post?
The support bar is included in the material list. Hope this helps and you’re able to recreate it without any problems. If you have any other questions let me know.
Hi! I love this 🙂 I am wondering if the bottom reinforcement piece was factored into the instructions for how many and what lengths… if not, what are those measurements and specifics? Thank you!!
Elizabeth Moran says
Hello! Absolutely love this! My husband and I just built it for our 2.5 year old daughter. However, we also had a very hard time finding the specific three way connector that the original directions called for, so we ended up by using 3/4″ x1/2″ PVC side outlet elbow/3 way connector with 3/4″ x1/2″ PVC Male Adapter and it worked beautifully! Our daughter is having a blast with cloud dough in the sensory table right now :-).
I’m so glad you’d like it and thanks for sharing your adaptation. I’ll add it to the post in case any others run into the same problem.
We just made this for our 1 year old and he’s loving it! We have just moved to Brazil, and do not have a lot of tools and stuff available because we’re waiting for our container but this was so easy to make, even finding the materials was not difficult at all (and cheap too). I am surprised at how sturdy it is, thanks for the great idea!
Thank you so much! Purchased everything a few months ago and I finally got around to making the cuts and putting everything together. The pictures along what to purchase and specific cuts were so easy to follow. I think I’m going to make 2 more! It’s perfect for my home daycare and even better for my budget. I love how everything comes apart and fits in the bin so it can be stored away. Thanks again!
I’m so glad you liked it and that the directions were helpful. The fact that it can be easily stored away is one of my favorite parts as well!!
I know this is an older post but is it possible to do this with less number of pipes by my calculations you only need 180″ of pipe or 3 5′ pipes…
Wifey sent me here. Good instructions!
I’d add that for about $10 you can buy PVC cutters. No need for saw and miter box. Way faster. Way cleaner.
Thanks for the tip!
Michelle Hall says
Hey Question: Anyone put water in one of these? I’m wondering if water is too heavy? or if I should put a second support beam in? Any thoughts would be great. I LOVE this idea and can’t wait to try it out. 🙂
The first time we used it I actually filled it half way with water. It worked just fine.
I just finished this a few minutes ago and I can’t wait to use it in my first grade classroom to expose the kids to more things! I’m planning to paint mine to jazz it up for my classroom. Thanks for the great tutorial!
Love the idea of painting it!!
We can only find a sterillite box with the one dimension of16 instead of 17. How would I alter the measurements? I want to make sure I don’t mess up the pipes
My husband said:
Is your bin 23-1/2″ x 16″ x 6″?
If so, then here is your adjusted cut list:
2 – 21”
5 – 13-1/4” (this is the only measurement that changes)
4 – 10”
2 – 3-1/2”
4 – 18-1/4” or to your desired height.
Remember it’s always a good idea to measure twice and cut once. You could start with the original measurements then cut off extra if it is in fact too big.
I’d love to hear how it works out?
We love this table and did buy the stuff and make one, however if you live in Alaska be aware this table will cost a lot more than 30$ to make. We paid 30$ alone just for the 8 side elbows. Thank you for the tutorial.
Thanks for letting us know about the price differences in Alaska!
I’m so excited about making this for my 21 month old! Thank you for posting! I found a Sterilite, 28-qt storage box, but its dimensions are 23 x 16.25 x 6. How would you alter the dimensions of the pipes?
Kevin (Madonna's husband) says
Robynn, for a box measuring 23″ x 16-1/4″ x 6″
2 – 20-1/2″
5 – 13-1/2″
4 – 9-3/4″
2 – 3-1/2″
4 – 18-1/4″ (or desired height)
Oh my gracious!! Just went to lowes with my almost 2 year old, bought everything I needed (two 10 foot PVC pipes were just the right amount and cheaper!) came in at $27 with a pipe cutter and I am returning 1 pipe because I bought 3. Had it all cut and put together with 2 year old help in 20 minutes!! Thank you for this.
Wow! Sounds great! So much less cost to build it and easier to store away!
Found on Pinterest and I’m definitely making this to help us survive summer! Thanks so much!
You’re very welcome!
Hi, I found 34QT Sterilite storage bin and the dimensions are 26.5″ L x 16″ W x 6 5/8″ H. How would you alter the dimensions of the pipes? Thanks to you and your husband in advance!
Kevin (Madonna's husband) says
Pizzalover, here’s the cuts I would make for a box measuring 26-1/2″ x 16″ x 6-5/8″.
4 – 11-1/2″
2 – 24″
5 – 13-1/4″
2 – 4-1/8″
4 – 18-1/4″ or desired height
From one pizza lover to another…Happy Building!
Local plumbing stores carry the 3/4″ if you’re having trouble finding it at larger chains.
Awesome! Thanks for the tip!
Hi! Love this idea.
I was wondering what alterations to the cut list you would make for a 34Q bin with the dimensions of 23.9 ” L x 16.8 ” W x 6.6 ” H?
Thanks so much!
Kat, here’s your cut list for your 34Q bin.
2 – 21-3/16”
5 – 14-1/16”
4 – 10-3/16”
2 – 4-1/8”
4 – 18-1/4”
Hope it turns out great. Have fun!
My 6 year old daughter and I enjoyed making this for our 3 year old twin’s 3rd bday party. It was easy and thanks in particular for the photo with actual measurements of each piece. This helped my brain in table assembly process. Thanks! Great idea!!