Sand And Water Tables: What Child Wouldn't Love An Indoor Beach?

From preschools to daycares, home to Occupational Therapy clinics, sand and water tables are a basic ingredient for indoor sensory play.

These tables come in all shapes and sizes; from small to large, wheelchair accessible or not, with or without covers, divided sections within one table, or separate tables for sand and water.

These tables capture the essence of a child's creativity, cooperative play, tactile play, and fine motor skills. They will have so much fun playing in it (and yes, probably making a little bit of a mess) while they develop necessary developmental skills.

Children with tactile defensiveness will not want to go near the sand table as the sand feels like the most uncomfortable, coarse sandpaper is being rubbed on their skin.

They may intently avoid getting their hands dirty. You may see them avoiding the these tables altogether or just using their fingertips to play in them.

Children with sensory processing disorders are the population of kids to make sure they are encouraged to play in the sand and water table. They need to become accustomed to this type of tactile input!

As I also elude to in my general treatment guidelines article, do not force these children to play in the tables, but do...


  • encourage exploration of the tables (even if it is just watching at first)

  • offer the opportunity to them often

  • give them toys to use so they don't have to touch the sand right away, or can touch it indirectly

  • allow them time to get used to it

  • allow them to wash their hands as soon as it bothers them, if needed

  • find creative play ideas to encourage them touch the sand

  • model playing with it yourself or use their peers as models

  • above all, keep encouraging them but be patient and don't "blame" them, validate how hard it is for them and tell them you will help them get used to it over time.


    As trivial as it sounds, playing in sand and water tables is a necessary developmental skill which a child's tactile system needs! And, for most children, it is one of their favorite items to play with. Be creative and patient and you CAN even make it that way for a child with tactile defensiveness.

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