At the Early Year Centre, I first saw Budster play with a water table. The basin is deep, and in many activities children are encouraged to use fishing rods, measuring cups or spoons to play with the toys at the bottom. It is also just possible to reach with outstretched arms. Budster likes to inspect the table’s contents whenever we visit the centre. His other favourite is an identical table with rice, sand or seeds at the bottom.

So, I thought of how to make a water table that would also double as a sand table. Obviously, there are enough water tables for sale, but my idea was going to provide us with a cheap, versatile and neutral-coloured table.

How to Make a Water Table: a simple DIY project on how to turn an Ikea table into a water table for sensory play and other fun kids activities!


Ikea Lack Side Table (starting from $7.99). We had a couple for putting our bedding plants on from before, so when thinking of a cheap low table, I immediately remembered it. It can be purchased in a variety of colours, but we have got a white one.

Ikea Samla Plastic Box with a Lid 15 1/4”x11”x11” or Ikea Samla Plastic Box with a Lid 15 1/4”x11”x5 1/2” – we actually got both, so that the depth of the box could vary. Any other plastic box would do just as well. It can be square to make the tub bigger and available from all the sides, but if it is rectangular, it leaves space on the table for toys.

How to Make a Water Table

First, I put the plastic box upside down on the table and traced its outline on the table with a washable marker. Then, as the idea was for the box not to fall through the tabletop, I made another outline inside of it, 1/4” smaller on all sides.

Then my husband used a jigsaw to cut the rectangal out. The inside of the tabletop is rather rough, as previous experience with Ikea’s cheaper furniture had prepared us for.


But once the plastic box is in place, it is no longer noticeable. It fits very nicely, and can be covered with a lid.


This is a deeper box because we are going to have an ocean scene inside and go fishing with a spoon, however if we want to make a sand playground next time, I can use a shallow box since it is exactly the same in width and length.

Other possibilities include getting a longer type of Lack table, cut two holes out and have a table with two tubs in it for water and for sand.



If you liked this article, you may also be interested in:

– How to Make a Wooden Puppet Theatre

– How to Make a Wooden Balance Board

– The Very Hungry Caterpillar Sensory Bin

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DIY Water Table: turn an Ikea table into a water table for sensory play and other fun kids activities!