On a recent Sunday, my 22-month-old daughter played by herself for two hours in the morning and one hour in the afternoon.
What toy could possibly occupy her for that long and enable my husband and I to enjoy some time lounging in chairs while we watched our daughter play? The answer is simple: a water table.
That morning, we had assembled a newly purchased Little Tikes Sandy Lagoon Waterpark table, and filled it up water and every sand toy we have around the house. But while my daughter couldn’t be more pleased with her new $57 backyard water table, it definitely wasn’t cheap and did take a bit to assemble.
So, before buying the table, I wish we had at least tried out the easy DIY water tables I’ve since learned about and that make up today’s hint. There’s a good chance one of these three homemade water table strategies would have worked just as well as the premade table, and we could have saved ourselves a bit of money.
1. A plastic bin water table. Plastic bins aren’t just great for inside play and storage, they also work great as DIY water tables. Simply place the bin on a sturdy surface, fill it up with about an inch of water, throw in some pouring toys (bubble bath optional), and then watch your children splash away.
For more inspiration on how to transform a shallow plastic bin and table into a water table, check out the DIY water table how-to over at Cheap Crafty Mama and the similar post over at No Time for Flash Cards. If you don’t have an appropriate table to place the bin on, simply stack plastic bins on top of each other as Kaitlin, who blogs at Millions of Fingerprints, cleverly did. Meanwhile, a large, deep bin placed on the ground can also work as a water table for appropriately-sized toddlers, as Emily of the site Simple Little Home points out.
2. A bowl water table. A large kitchen bowl can also double as the setting of a DIY water table (hat tip to Joy of the blog Oh Joy on this one — she transforms a clear plastic bowl into a water table with the help of a side table and a stoop). Just place the bowl on a firm surface, fill it with water toys, and voilà, instant water fun.
3. A baby or toddler bathtub water table. If you still have a baby or toddler tub (I like this Munchkin one) collecting dust around your house, summertime is the perfect time to repurpose it into a DIY water table. Simply place the tub on top of a small table, chair or other short sturdy surface (like a cooler), fill it up with about an inch of water, cups, pails and shovels, and let your little ones engage in some pouring, emptying and splashing fun. If you like this idea, check out The Frugalette and BabyCenter for more baby bathtub water table inspiration.
Regardless of which of these methods you try, the key is to have the “table” at an appropriate height for your little one and to fill it up with lots of pails, shovels and other toys that allow for hours of pouring fun. In addition, of course, make sure the water play only occurs under supervision.
What DIY water tables would you add to this list? What are your water toy-related tips and your children’s favorite water toys?