If you have met Nate, you know he is a tad bit crazy, so actually making a sensory table with rice was less than ideal. I mean, yes, he would be getting the benefits of it and have fun, but I would be the one to clean up the mess. I wasn't ready for that. He has a ton of toys as it is. I was on a Pinterest binge these past 2 weeks so I decided to muster up the strength, energy, and motivation to make him one. He has a water table so I knew I was going to use that. We found the water table on the side of the road during a bulk trash day so no cost there! You can get them almost anywhere, but they are a pretty penny for something that just holds water. There is this one from Amazon, which is what Nate has or you can make a DIY one.
Since I already had the table, I just needed rice and whatever objects I wanted him to play with and explore. I got a 10lb bag (around $5) and some gems ($1.11 each, 2 colors). That's all I bought.
Nate knew we were going to make this rice table. I had been talking about it and while we were shopping I told him what the gems were for and he sat in the back of the cart wanting to tear open the 10lb bag of rice. When we got home, he helped me clean the water table and pour the rice and the gems in. We used beach toys, cars, cups, dinosaurs, spoons, etc. as this first trial run. Basically toys he already had that are considered "outside toys".
Patience is a trait we are CONSTANTLY working on so we used this moment to work on that...
He had to wait until I got my camera to take a before picture. He did well. We also had to discuss the "rules" of the rice table. I couldn't just let him go for it or rice would have been everywhere in 2 seconds.
1. Rice stays IN rice table (as much as possible). I didn't fill the table all the way up for this reason. If there was more rice I was pretty much setting him up for failure. With only about an inch of rice he can play and scoop and sift, etc., with enough room.
*rice will still come out* I laid a towel under for those moments.
2. Rice has to stay in the bottom area and the unused toys are at the top. The top part is very shallow and I wanted some type of separation between the rice area and toy area.
3. Only use the toys that are in the toy area. He wasn't allowed to go get another toy he thought would be fun or he wanted. There was enough to play with and I plan on switching them out and doing themes, colors, etc., later.
4. No throwing rice. He can scoop, he can fill, he can drive the car, dump, shovel, spoon and pour, but NO throwing. and yes, I use the word No.
5. Have fun.
After I took my pictures and went over the rules it was time to play. It was like Christmas day to this kid. He had a blast. I let him explore for almost 30 minutes by himself, and then I took the opportunity to have a little lesson. I emphasized the word "only". We played a game that we could "only" scoop up clear gems, then "only" brown gems, then "only" rice". We did this for 15 minutes or so. It was a sorting game and introducing new vocabulary.
I am glad I waited until he was 2 to do this type of sensory table. I think it could have gone very bad if I did it at a younger age. If your kid is mature enough, go for it. There are so many options and ideas for sensory tables! Colors, edible, water, animals, letters, magnets, shaving cream, bubbles, straws, shredded paper, rocks, sand. Here is a Valentine's Day theme one if you are up for making one this week!
I'm going to keep this the way it is for at least a month. Next month I will probably do a green theme for St. Patrick's Day. He is loving it right now and it cost me less than $10!