An activity table is lots of fun for your toddler plus helps her improve her skills.

The Best Activity Table for Toddlers

by Tamara Runzel

You know your toddler’s mind is going a mile a minute as he explores the world around him. Sometimes, it might seem hard to find the perfect toy for that inquisitive mind. An activity table can lead to hours of fun, exploration and creativity as well as help your son fine tune his cognitive and motor skills. There are a number of different types of activity tables; the best one for your toddler depends on what will entertain him.

1. Water and Sand Tables

You can buy a water table or a sand table, but most are a combination of the two. From funnels to buckets to strainers, these tables provide hours of outdoor fun. Water and sand tables normally have a theme incorporated into the table with toys that go along with it. You can also buy special sand that is easier to build with and sticky enough that it doesn’t fly everywhere. Most come with covers for when they’re not in use and many are adjustable so they grow with your daughter. Water and sand tables foster physical and mental growth as she learns the difference between empty and full, shallow and deep, and heavy and light.

2. Art Tables

If your son is a Picasso in the making, an art activity table might be a good choice for you. Art tables have spots for all the creativity tools your son needs: crayons, brushes, paints, chalk, erasers and pencils. Depending on the table you choose, it may have a scrolling roll of paper, drying rack, special holders for paints or a special tilt surface for easier drawing and painting. Art activity tables provide opportunities for sensory exploration as your son feels the crayon and sees the results of his actions. They also help with motor development as he uses his arm for larger drawings and his fingers, hands and wrists for smaller work.

3. Bead Tables

You’ve seen them in doctor’s offices or other busy waiting areas: bead activity tables. This table provide your daughter with endless fun as she navigates the beads around a maze of paths. Many cube shaped bead tables come with additional activities around the cube, such as magnet panels, flippers, a counting abacus, spinning gears and alphabet blocks. These activity tables foster motor skills as your daughter learns to navigate around the curves as well as cognitive skills as she learns how the spinning gears work.

4. Other Tables

You are almost guaranteed to find an activity table that fits your son's personality. There are simple, flat top tables that allow you to choose the activity for him. Most of these tables have a raised edge so toys won’t fall off. You can also choose different shapes depending on your needs: round, square, oval or kidney-shaped. There are also musical and light-up activity tables that encourage music and letter learning for younger toddlers.

5. Considerations

It’s important to pick the right sized chair and table for your daughter so she’s as comfortable as possible. A 6-inch chair generally works for toddlers from 1 to 2 years old. These chairs are usually made so they don’t tip over easily. They work best with a tables that are 13 to 17 inches high. An 8-inch seat works well for toddlers from 2 to 3 years old. These chairs work best with tables from 17 to 21 inches. Measure the chair from the floor to the seat. Your daughter should sit with her legs bent at 90-degree angles and feet flat on the floor.

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