Vinyl tubing, funnels, and a pegboard make a GREAT sensory play station!

Owen (4.5) and Jonathan (2) adore any type of sensory play.  Pouring, scooping, digging – they love it all.  We recently made a pegboard with funnels and tubes for pouring rice, and it has been an absolute hit!  Aidan (age 10) helped me build it, and he commented that it was WAY cooler than he thought it would be.  He and I both had a blast playing with it before the little boys saw it!

Sensory Play with a Funnels and Tubes Pegboard

Here is what you need to build one:

  • Vinyl tubing – we used Watts 7/8 OD by 5/8 ID 10 feet long
  • Funnels – we bought three Penzoil brand funnels from the hardware section at Home Depot.  You need a big enough opening in your funnel that the rice won’t get stuck constantly.  Our are 1/2 inch openings, and I wouldn’t go any smaller.
  • A pegboard – We bought a white one at Home Depot for $8.97.  I had it cut to 31 inches long at Home Depot so that it fits in this under-the-bed box.
  • Duct tape
  • Cable ties – make sure they’ll fit through the holes in your pegboard!
  • A saw – to cut the vinyl tubing
  • Scissors

Sensory Play with a Funnels and Tubes Pegboard

Step 1:  Cut your vinyl tubing into the lengths you want.

Step 2:  Attach the funnels to the vinyl tubing with duct tape.  Our funnels did not fit down inside the tubing – they just sat on top, and I secured them with plenty of tape.  I don’t think you would want them to fit inside the tubing, though, because that would mean that the funnel opening is too small.  Unless you get the largest size of tubing.  For us, the largest size was out because it was $17 instead of $7!

Step 3:  Attach your tubes to the pegboard with cable ties.  It’s a good idea to test the tubes by actually pouring rice down them before attaching them.  We tested ours and still had to re-do one because it didn’t work quite right and the rice was getting stuck – not enough momentum to go down.

Here’s a close up of the construction:

Sensory Play with a Funnels and Tubes Pegboard

I decided to color our rice to make it easier to see in the tubes.  If I had known how simple this was, I would have been coloring rice a long time ago!  I used this tutorial on making colored rice from Learn with Play at Home.  At first, I was going to do two colors, but Owen and I were having so much fun that we made the whole rainbow!  (Well, minus yellow.)  Our rice did not color as evenly as some I’ve seen on Pinterest, probably because it was the cheapest rice possible from Walmart, and we’ve been playing with it for over a year already.  But I still think it turned out super pretty!

Sensory Play with a Funnels and Tubes Pegboard

I set out the pegboard, the rice, and some tools for scooping and digging, and we were ready to play!

Sensory Play with a Funnels and Tubes Pegboard

The boys enjoyed collecting the rice as it came out of the tubes.  Owen and I had fun “sending” the same rice back and forth to each other.  He would dump it in the funnel on his side, and I would catch it in a cup on my side.  Then I would pour it in my funnel, and it would travel across the board and he would catch it on his side!

Sensory Play with a Funnels and Tubes Pegboard

Hard at play!

Sensory Play with a Funnels and Tubes Pegboard

This activity held Jonathan’s interest for a good, long time, which made it totally worth it to sweep the spilled rice off the floor.  He was busy practicing the skills of pouring, scooping with a spoon, and figuring out how to catch the rice as it came out of the tubes!

Sensory Play with a Funnels and Tubes Pegboard

We can’t wait to try this out with water in the summer!  The only thing is that I think the pegboard will get ruined if it’s sitting in water.  So we won’t be able to collect and re-use the water very easily.  I’ll have to give that some thought…

More Ideas for Sensory Play

11 Comments

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  1. Kim Chance Feb 17, 2014

    This is a great idea! And I think it could work with water. You would have to attach the pegboard to the outside of the box and have the tubing go down inside the box. I can't wait to try this!

    Reply
    1. Christine Feb 17, 2014

      What fun! I bought some chicken wire last summer to do something similar for water but never got around to making it. You wouldn't have to worry about it getting wet but I was going to wrap the edges in duct tape or something since they would be sharp. Maybe this summer I will see if it works!

      Reply
      1. [email protected] Measured Mom Feb 18, 2014

        This is so, so cool, Sarah. You do such a great job at giving tutorials. We will have to put some items on our Menard's shopping list and make this soon. Such a great activity for this COLD winter!

        Reply
        1. katepickle Feb 19, 2014

          Oh so much fun!!!!

          Reply
          1. Kay McCoy Feb 21, 2014

            Water would work great outside if you attached your tubes on a chain link fence if that is the type your yard had. Larger tubes and XL pom poms are excellent for toddlers as an inside center. Great Idea. Love your site!

            Reply
            1. Sarah Feb 21, 2014

              Pom pom balls are a great idea!

              Reply
            2. Debs Feb 22, 2014

              This is great! MY kids would love this. We don't have a peg board but I've got other ideas of where I could rig it up. So much fun with rice. Thanks for sharing and for linking in our coloured rice as well :D Pinned.

              Reply
              1. Laurel Feb 28, 2014

                Couldn't you just use Polyurethane on the peg board to water-proof it?

                Reply
                1. Renee Apr 12, 2014

                  I think they sell plastic peg board, or you could use a 1/2 panel of plastic lattice. My son's preschool also had the plastic tubing affixed to trees in the play yard and running every which way for the kids to follow.

                  Reply
                  1. Claudia Aug 23, 2014

                    How about using a screen to replace the pegboard? It could be an old window screen or a piece of screen fabric which you fasten into a metal frame you devise. Any of these could get wet.

                    Reply
                    1. Dianna Jan 26, 2015

                      You could get small dust pans and hand brooms and have the boys sweep up afterwards, adding yet another skill to what they are learning.

                      Reply
                      1. Tina Apr 10, 2015

                        This post reminds me of something Connor & I came across this week while he was on spring break. At 7 1/2 he is very "sciency" and I like to encourage him in water & sand play. Teacher Tom had a post showing how he took a water table and he put a plank of wood across the center of it. On this board he put a crate that had the same type of tubing you used wound thru out the crate (4-5 tubes). At the top he had funnels to pour water or sand and the children had to figure out which end the water/sand would come out of. Its a constant guessing game and as there is a reservoir underneath the water can be used over and over. This and a water wall is on our summer bucket list! I'm sure this will be popular for 16 mo old Gianna, 4 yr old Madison & 7 1/2 yr old Connor. I love activities that cross over the ages!!!

                        Reply
                        1. Sarah Apr 13, 2015

                          Wow, that sounds like a fun idea! I will have to check out that post. Teacher Tom has so many creative ideas!

                          Reply

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