Who needs a water table, anyway?

My mom, in all her brilliance, came up with this great idea for keeping Little Brother occupied while still having loads of fun.

It’s a cooler (or as some might call it, an ice chest). Filled with water. With cups and squeeze toys. That’s it.

And LB LOVED it. He played in that cooler for a loooong time. Dumping, pouring, scooping, squeezing and dumping some more. Why spend money on a water table when this works just as well??? You could even add a big bowl on one side and put some sand in there!

If you’re worried about the lid coming down and squishing those precious little fingers, just cut a small piece off of a pool noodle, cut a slit in it and hang it over the edge. That should keep it from shutting all the way.

My mom is both brilliant and beautiful!

*As someone in the comments reminded me…make sure you closely supervise your child whenever you’re playing with water!!!


  1. I use an under-the-bed storage box with a lid and wheels for our 'sandbox.' I just wheel it out of the garage when we want to use it, and wheel it back when we're finished!

  2. Fabulous idea! We have a water table, but this looks like a great idea too! We actually filled a rubbermaid tub with water for her and let her "swim" yesterday!

  3. Love the idea- but must add a caution. Toddlers can easily fall in the chest and are NOT able to wiggle out. This leaves them with their head submerged and legs in air. Please closely supervise this FUN activity!

  4. Jenae… tell your mom she is a genius, too! ;) I am so excited to try this! I envision a line of coolers with different themed toys in each. Yay!

  5. I love this idea! It's so nice having a resourceful mommy! Have you tried adding some dish soap to get bubbles in the water? My boys do this sometimes as a make shift sensory bin on the kitchen floor. I give them toothbrushes (from $1 store) and they "wash" their Hot Wheels. If some of the water spills, the kitchen floor actually gets cleaned up-imagine that! :)

  6. I saw this post and immediately thought of the little boy in our extended community recently lost to a drowning in a bucket . It's one of those "seemed like a great idea at the time" ideas but a moments distraction could lead to tragedy. I strongly suggest close supervision if you let the little one play like this, don't even answer the phone. The little guy here was lost when grandma went to answer the door.

  7. Thank you!! Needed this idea and did not want to buy another water table. Ours was squashed in the move. Tell your mom she is AWESOME and thanks YOU for sharing!

  8. What a great idea – especially for grandparents! With the safety tips, this is a perfect alternative to a traditional water table – saves money and is a wonderful way to get double usage from a cooler! I featured your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LivingMontessoriNow

  9. As others have stated, this seems like such a good idea but is in fact a HUGE drowning risk. I would not encourage anyone to do this as a top heavy toddler could easily tip over and not be able to get out.

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