Use PVC pipe to make a sand and water table for kids!
My 2, 4, and 6 year olds have been loving this sensory play table. I am loving the fact that you can change out the tubs and do either water or sand (or something else!) but not have both out at the same time. Maybe it’s just me being a little OCD, but I have never wanted a play table that has both water and sand on it. My toddlers would just turn both sections into both water AND sand, and I think I would constantly be replacing the sand.
I saw this idea on Pinterest via Southern Bell DIY, and we adapted it to add a pipe across the top for funnels.
I put out a few extra pipe sections and elbow joints so that the kids can build different pipe arrangements.
It’s a TON of fun! We colored the water blue with a few drops of food coloring to make it look cool, although we don’t do this every time. It did not stain hands at all.
I bought two tubs so that we can have one just for sand and one for water, or other things since we don’t store it with water in it. We might fill it with colored rice sometime! Or dry beans, or small rocks. Lots of possibilities.
We played with sand with the top pipes removed.
But then dry sand is fun with the funnels and tubes across the top of the table as well!
Ready to build one? Here’s what you need:
We used 3/4 inch PVC pipe.
- 10 T joints
- 4 elbow joints with three pipe openings (for the top four corners)
- 8 elbow joints (for the funnel area across the top)
- 4 caps
- 2 cross joints
- 4 – 10 foot PVC pipes
- PVC pipe cutters
- Spray paint
- PVC glue
- Two under-the-bed tubs
UPDATE and DIMENSIONS: Thanks to all of you who are loving this project! Many have asked for more dimensions, so here they are. Our tubs are 35.5 inches long, 16.5 inches wide, and 6.5 inches deep. The lid adds a little more height to the box.
Our table is glued together and the pipes are inserted into the connectors (so there is some overlap), but here is our best estimate on the dimensions. You may need to adapt this a little depending on your tubs and the height of your kids.
Length of the legs: cap, 14.25 inches, T connector, 2.5 inches
Sides: 11 inches, T connector, 8 inches, T connector, 11.25 inches
Top Sides: 34.25 inches
Tubes under the tub: 14 inches
Ends: 6.25 inches, T connector, 6 inches
Update Oct. 2016: Now that we have had the table for 6 months, I would recommend adding a pipe on each end that runs horizontally between the legs. I would position it about 5 inches up from the bottom on each side. This would give the table added stability. Our table is still doing great, but it’s slightly wobbly. If I make another one, I’ll add those two additional pipes and an extra T connector on each leg.
This photo shows the basic design, but we hadn’t added the pipe over the top yet.
We decided to spray paint the bottom of the table blue, and I love the way it looks! At first, we did not glue the pipes together. This did not work because those tubs of water and sand are HEAVY! The table started sagging and swaying. Jordan glued all of the joints with PVC pipe glue except the ones that hold the pipe across the top so that we can play with it either on or off. The glue made a huge difference – I would not skip that step.
We chose the height for our table based on what was comfortable for our 4 year old and yet not too terribly short for our 6 year old. Then we built a step stool for the 2 year old. We were afraid that if we built it her height, no one else would be able to comfortably play with it, and she would quickly outgrow it anyway.
Her step stool is a pallet left over from our American Ninja Warrior course with plywood on the top. We sanded it down well.
For storage of the water tub, we dump the water out and then set the tub and toys in our garage to dry. For the sand tub, we snap the lid on to keep out rain and neighborhood critters.
Have fun building a sand and water table – your kids are going to love it!
Want more warm weather play ideas? Check these out!