Best Water and Sand Tables for Kids

Summer can be a difficult time for parents of young children. With the heat, playing outside isn’t always possible, and with summer vacation, the pools are bound to be too crowded to warrant a trip to cool down.

What you need is a way for your child to have fun and cool down in your back yard; what you need is a water or sand table for your kid.

Product Comparison Table:

Title
Little Tikes Spiralin' Seas Waterpark Play Table
Step2 Naturally Playful Sand Table
Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship – Amazon Exclusive
Step2 874600 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table Playset, Small Pack, Multi-Colored
Step2 Spill & Splash Seaway Water Table
Little Tikes Fish 'n Splash Water Table
Size
29" x 29" x 31.5"; 10 lbs
36" x 26" x 16.4"; 16.5 lbs
40" x 29" x 38"; 19.5 lbs
39" x 24" x 32"; 10 lbs
25" x 43.2" x 22.5"; 20 lbs
31.5" x 29" x 29"; 9 lbs
Recommended Age
24 mo - 6 yrs
24 mo +
24 mo - 6 yrs
18 mo - 8 yrs
18 mo - 8 yrs
24 mo - 5 yrs
Special features
Center spiral, Ferris wheel, funnel w/ spinning wheels, lazy river
Elevated sand box, tie-down lid provides additional play options
Several spinning features, anchor w/ crank
Realistic rainfall sound, customizable water maze
Two-tiered water basins, umbrella sun shade, whirlpool spinner
Tipping fish bowl w/ slide, catapult, whirlpool effect
Accessories
Cup, 5 character squirt balls
2 shovels, 2 claw rakes, bucket
2 pirates, boat, shark, life ring, 2 scoops, bucket
3 animal friends, 2 scoop cups, bucket, multiple maze pieces
2 divers, 2 squirting friends, 2 scoop cups, plastic "net"
Scoop cup, net, fishing pole, 5 firsh friends
Title
Little Tikes Spiralin' Seas Waterpark Play Table
Size
29" x 29" x 31.5"; 10 lbs
Recommended Age
24 mo - 6 yrs
Special features
Center spiral, Ferris wheel, funnel w/ spinning wheels, lazy river
Accessories
Cup, 5 character squirt balls
Title
Step2 Naturally Playful Sand Table
Size
36" x 26" x 16.4"; 16.5 lbs
Recommended Age
24 mo +
Special features
Elevated sand box, tie-down lid provides additional play options
Accessories
2 shovels, 2 claw rakes, bucket
Title
Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship – Amazon Exclusive
Size
40" x 29" x 38"; 19.5 lbs
Recommended Age
24 mo - 6 yrs
Special features
Several spinning features, anchor w/ crank
Accessories
2 pirates, boat, shark, life ring, 2 scoops, bucket
Title
Step2 874600 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table Playset, Small Pack, Multi-Colored
Size
39" x 24" x 32"; 10 lbs
Recommended Age
18 mo - 8 yrs
Special features
Realistic rainfall sound, customizable water maze
Accessories
3 animal friends, 2 scoop cups, bucket, multiple maze pieces
Title
Step2 Spill & Splash Seaway Water Table
Size
25" x 43.2" x 22.5"; 20 lbs
Recommended Age
18 mo - 8 yrs
Special features
Two-tiered water basins, umbrella sun shade, whirlpool spinner
Accessories
2 divers, 2 squirting friends, 2 scoop cups, plastic "net"
Title
Little Tikes Fish 'n Splash Water Table
Size
31.5" x 29" x 29"; 9 lbs
Recommended Age
24 mo - 5 yrs
Special features
Tipping fish bowl w/ slide, catapult, whirlpool effect
Accessories
Scoop cup, net, fishing pole, 5 firsh friends

Why use a Sand and Water Table?

Water and sand tables incorporate the fun of water and/or sand play with an activity table. There are often toys included like scoop cups, buckets, and shovels as well as themed toys like fish or pirates.

Even though water and sand tables are still pretty bulky, they eliminate the need for a huge pool or sandbox in your back yard. They can be moved around fairly easily (when they’re empty) so you can find just the right shady spot to set it up.

These tables also help to promote imagination and learning through interactive play and watching the effects of physics on the elements.

Most of the time, water tables and sand tables are separate items, but occasionally you can find a table that incorporates both if that is what you want.

Features

There are some common features you will find with water and sand tables. These may include mazes and spinners, whirlpool effects, and dumping buckets.

Oftentimes, you will also find tables that are centered on a specific theme, such as fishing, pirates, or pond life.

These will usually include theme-specific features in addition to the ones previously mentioned.

Educational Benefit

Learning starts at a young age, whether you and your child realize it is happening. By utilizing the built-in features, your child can learn about cause and effect as well as physics, such as gravity and water power.

By using your own creativity and imagination, you can help to incorporate new activities that promote imagination, creativity, and discovery in your own child.

Try taking their sand table and burying some items, giving them a sifter and sending them on a treasure hunt.

Accessories

In addition to the built-in features, water and sand tables often come with some toys to play with.

These may include buckets and shovels, sand rakes, balls, squirt toys, and scooping cups.

Pros:

  • Fun summertime play
  • Promotes creativity and imagination
  • Teaches cause and effect

Cons:

  • Too big to store easily
  • Can’t be used year-round
  • Some can be difficult to assemble

Best Water and Sand Tables for Kids

Little Tikes Spiralin' Seas Waterpark Play Table

This water table often makes the top of the list in its category. Its design is simple, but it provides plenty of fun for kids around two to six years old.

The table comes with 5 character balls that double as squirt toys. They are the basis for most of the activities, including a spiral chute in the center and a Ferris wheel that scoops and drops the balls.

You do need to be wary of these toys, though. Just as with any other squirt toy, it is difficult to get all the water out, allowing mold to grow inside. This can cause your child to become ill if they continue to play with them.

It also comes with a scoop cup that can be used to pour water through the funnel feature and watch it run over two spinning wheels. You can also keep the water moving by using the spinner to power the lazy river effect.

Probably the biggest design flaw is with the drain plug. If it isn’t installed and sealed just right, it will allow the water to slowly leak out.

Pro

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    Simple fun for all ages
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    Balls double as squirt toys
  • Three main water features

Con

  • Balls trap water and grow mold
  • The drain is known to leak
Step2 Naturally Playful Sand Table

This table is designed for sand play, though some have used it for water even though there is no plug to drain it. The set includes 2 shovels, 2 claw rakes, and a bucket as well as a tie-down lid, which is intended to keep the sand dry and protected from the elements.

Unfortunately, the lid doesn’t provide fool-proof protection; it is known to leak into the sand even when tied down properly.

There are tracks and grooves etched into the table lid that allow it to double as an extra play space for toy cars and whatnot.

Since there aren’t many activities and the table is intended for sand play only, it may be more suitable for older toddlers and children, starting at 24 months and older.

Pro

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    Includes sand toys
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    Tie down lid can be played on
  • Promotes creativity through play

Con

  • Lid leaks
  • More suitable for older children
Little Tikes Anchors Away Pirate Ship Water Play Table

There is no end to the fun with this pirate ship water table. There are several toys and activities that are sure to keep your little one busy for hours on end.

The set includes multiple pirate-themed features including a crow’s nest water maze, water shooting cannon, and an anchor that lowers with a crank. There are also several toys included – pirates, a shark, a boat, and a life ring.

This table is one of the biggest on our list, which makes it a bit harder to store for the colder months. Water is also known to leak into the base of the table (the ship part) making it very heavy and difficult to drain when you are done with it.

Pro

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    Several pirate-themed features
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    Big enough for multiple kids to play at once
  • Includes toys and activities for imaginative play

Con

  • Very big and heavy
  • Water leaks into the base
Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table Playset

This water table offers fun and play on multiple levels, literally. The set includes two scoop cups, a bucket, 3 animal friends, and multiple water maze pieces.

When water is poured into the top section, your child can watch and listen as it transforms into realistic rainfall.

You can also help them set up and rearrange the water maze in multiple ways, helping them to observe and discover cause and effect.

You do need to have some patience (and possibly a power drill) to assemble this water table. Many have said that it is very difficult, especially since there are no pre-drilled holes for the screws.

It is also said that the table is known to leak through the newly drilled holes as well.

Pro

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    Water maze can be rearranged multiple ways
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    Realistic rainfall appearance and sound
  • Includes toys for scooping and squirting

Con

  • Difficult to assemble
  • May leak from drilled holes
Step2 Spill & Splash Seaway Water Table

Unlike the other water tables we’ve looked at, this one is a bit more simple. Some may even say there isn’t much for a child to interact with.

However, we felt that there were still enough great features to include it on our list.

There are two levels to this table, which makes it great for your child to play with from a young age (18 months or so). Included with the set are 2 divers, a fish and a dolphin, 2 scoop cups, and a plastic “net” for scooping toys out of the water.

One of the best features about this table is the attached sun shade umbrella. You can rest assured knowing that your child is safe and shaded.

While there aren’t a lot of activities, there is a spinner to create a whirlpool effect in the water, adding movement and fun.

Pro

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    Two levels of water play
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    Attached sun shade umbrella
  • Spinner creates a whirlpool effect

Con

  • Not much to interact with
  • Water doesn’t flow from top level to bottom
Little Tikes Fish 'n Splash Water Table

There is loads of fun to be had with this water table, which is the perfect combination of all things water and fish. Included are 5 fish friends, a net, scoop cup, and fishing pole as well as built-in activities to interact with.

Your child can have fun dumping their fish from the water bowl on top and watching them float down the water slide onto the spinning lily pad. They can fling their fishy friends into the water from the catapult on the side, and they can even try their hand at catching their little friends with the fishing pole.

Even though this table is intended for water, it is also able to hold up to 50 pounds of sand if you wish to switch it up every once in a while.

There are a couple of minor frustrations with this table, however. 

Some have said that the construction is lacking, with assembly holes being drilled in the wrong places in particular. It is also known to leak slightly from the plug.

Pro

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    Comes with several toys
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    Able to hold sand as well
  • Plenty of activities

Con

  • Construction is lacking in some areas
  • Leaks from the plug

Final Word

A water and/or sand table can be a great way for your child to have fun and cool down in the summertime without needing to travel to a crowded pool or beach.

They also take up less space in your yard than a kiddie pool or sandbox.

Not only are they fun, but they also promote learning and discovery through the observation of cause and effect as well as imaginative play with characters and toys.

What do you think? Do you have a recommendation for a water or sand table? Let us know!

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