#repurposingforplay – Folding Tables

What is a table, really?

The eyes of an adult and the eyes of a child see differently. So a child can look at a table and see more than a place to sit and eat a meal. Can you think of ten different things a table can be? A child can surpass most adults on the amazing usefulness of a table.

Ten Table Talents

What could a table be?

Consider these ideas:

  1. A surface for play. Yes, this may seem to be the most obvious. Toddlers beginning to value pulling up and spending more time in the “world up there” will need a good surface. Children with a physical disability can use a surface to have access to materials for making designs, towers, games, art, etc.
  2. A slanted surface to play. A table with one set of legs down paves the way for the laws of physics to strut its stuff. Watch cars race. Add obstacles. Add some tubes (ADS pipes) with intersections (connectors) to roll balls. Make predictions about where the ball will reappear. Try new variations. Experiencing physics lays a perfect foundation for later understanding.
  3. A place to ponder.
  4. A place to talk.
  5. A place to hide.
  6. A house or fort.
  7. A reading nook.
  8. A resting nook.
  9. A puppet stage.
  10. A Plinko stand.

We couldn’t resist. Six more:

  1. A waterfall stand.
  2. An ADS pipe frame.
  3. A place for shade.
  4. A tunnel to climb under.
  5. A thing to climb up.
  6. A thing to slide down.

Why are folding tables so great?

Many folding tables are light and movable for children. Their portability gives young minds open-ended possibilities. They’re rugged and can handle various loads.

From a child’s perspective tables are an adult’s domain. Permitting children to use a table for play in a new way, elevates their play to a new status. “If I’m allowed to use this table for play, then my play must be important.”

Are folding tables safe?

Safety is important. Test the table for stability. Set guidelines. Give freedom. This doesn’t guarantee safety, but your testing and guiding will allow children to reap the benefits of the folding table with reduced risk. Giving children liberty to experience risk in their play affords them opportunities to learn how to assess risk without dire consequences. These little risk lessons learned early will last a lifetime.

In this series, we’re striving to inspire the use of everyday things for play. The tip sheet is here to help start the process. Be sure to come back next week for more. 


Comment below with your answers

  • Do you own a folding table that children can commandeer for play?
  • What questions do you have about using a folding table for play?
  • Do you know of other uses for a folding table?

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