Toddler Sensory Play Inserts for the IKEA Flisat Table | Review & Ideas

I popped into IKEA on my way home from New York City last week – I see it every time I drive up the turnpike and every time I’m like – I should stop in. For what though? Well the famous sensory Flisat table of course!

I’ve been eyeing this table for probably 2 years now, especially at the start of quarantine and the start of our sensory play journey. I saw it all over instagram and pinterest as the MUST have sensory play / playroom item. I’d been so curious what the hype is all about.

This table has been sold out – everywhere – for months, for years. So I settled in with using our play table with various trays. Our Target tray that went totally instagram viral after I started sharing it, my signature white baking dish, various trays from home sense and antique shops, even a wine crate. Absolutely anything can be a sensory tray! I had so much fun exploring sensory play with different trays on different surfaces and it really showed me while I longed for the FLISAT table, we didn’t need it to have a great time with sensory play.

As we have a play table already, and a train table, and live in a cottage, I also could not imagine where we’d fit the table, but landed on if I could find one it would be our outside table instead of me dragging our heavy play table outside and back inside almost every day the last 18 months – we LOVE sensory play outside. I also knew the FLISAT table wasn’t necessarily waterproof, which leads me to my waterproofing experiment.

So long story short, I popping into the IKEA, swung by the bin where the tables would be with fingers crossed and there it was, in stock! Stools I didn’t get as lucky with – but i was thrilled and brought it right home. I will have to say it took 3 minutes to put together and it was super light. On the way home I stopped in Lowes for a sealant as I knew I’d want to seal it before we get it messy.

How to Waterproof Your Ikea Flisat Table for Sensory Play

Important to note here this was a total experiment that worked well for us, I’ll share all the tips and tricks and what I learned.

I used this sealant and a plastic drop cloth outside for good ventilation. I plan to use our ikea table outside and feared water soaking into the wood and getting mold and mildew overtime and wanted to protect the the wood as long as possible. My goal was to find a sealant where the water would bead up versus soak into the table. I found the spray at lowes and here’s what a learned while using it.

  1. Make sure your table is clean and free of dust and dirt prior to spraying
  2. lay down a drop cloth underneath
  3. spray from at least 12 inches away ( seriously! ) I did not, and the sealant pooled up and was oily – the coat should be extremely light, I knew something wasn’t quite right when it was very shiny and wet looking so after about 3 hours I used a rag to wipe it down and I’m glad I did. After reading some reviews online leaving it oily like this can ruin the surface you sprayed and it can stay sticky and tacky. If you spray the table from within the 12 inches this will happen to you! I was thankful to have saved it from this disaster.
  4. Wait at least 24 hours before a second coat, i’ll be waiting longer as it’s been raining.
  5. I found the smell to be strong when i sprayed it but cannot smell it at all now even after brining it inside after the full 24 hours

So that’s it, again if you try this make sure the layers are super light from a distance and wipe away residue as it shouldn’t look shiny and wet at all. Surface may become oily ( from the reviews I read) – we haven’t had any issues though and the water beads up beautifully.

Now that our table is waterproofed it was time for some sensory play!

I was most excited to create inserts for the trofast bins. I went on an insert spree cutting up cardboard and making some fun inserts for Q. Here’s how they turned out and how I’d rate each activity from his honest interest. Q is is almost 3 years old.

The Hive Insert

I made air dry clay bees – recipe can be found here , I used a bee cookie cutter and these paint pens. I had made this bee activity for Q and decided to cut the hive down to trofast bin size. I set the hive in the tray, set out 1 small bin of beans and 1 small bin of rocks, added some flowers, moss, and the air dry clay bees ( took 2 minutes!) and invited Q to play.

I’d rate this one 9/10 – Q really loved the beans bin the bees were in and was excited to be painting the bees with me. He loved the simplicity of the activity which led to some fun counting and flying the bees into the hive. He didn’t dive into the rocks bin all that much – next time I’d just do one large bin of the bees with all the beans!

The Barn Insert

I’ll go ahead and rate this 10/10. Q is really into farm play right now and this was right up his alley. I used acrylic paint to paint a barn onto the cardboard, I left a small rectangle where I added packing tape to write on erasable numbers and cut three sides of the barn door so he could open and close the door to add in animals.

I set out the barn insert into the large tray and added these animals into one small bin, and then my fall pasta into the other one. I also added in small hay bales from dollar tree and small barn from Target. This play was a HUGE hit for Q. We practiced counting and sorting animals and then he stayed and played for a long while here.

The Apple Tree Insert

Another 10/10 rating. Q went back and forth to this table all afternoon. I painted two trees onto the cardboard and used a box cutter to make slots. I set the insert in the large bin and in the two smaller bins I set out green rainbow rice with faux apples and white beans with red popsicle sticks I had snagged on clearance from Michael’s after the holidays.

Q loved placing the sticks in and out of the tree while we pretended they were apples. The rice and beans as fillers were also huge hits and he brought some of his toys over to play here as well .This is a great counting activity and fine motor skills strengthening.

The Sunflower Insert

This was one where I had an idea and Q had a completely different idea. I painted sunflowers onto cardboard and used a screw driver to make small holes in each flowers. Then I cut the sharp sides off tooth picks and set then out and imagine a fine motor activity to place into the sunflowers.

I set out in the small bins beans with sunflower painted pasta and dyed fall rainbow rice in the other. Q was really excited about this fall rice mix and ran for his trucks. He also was more interested in matching the sunflower pasta to the painted sunflowers- which was a fun activity! He stuck a few toothpicks in, but wasn’t super interested. I’d rate this one 6/10, he really did love that they were sunflowers and this rice mix.

The Bear Insert

Q loves bears. His second birthday part was bear themed! I knew I wanted to create a “feed the animal” activity and chose to make him some bears. I painted bears onto cardboard and used a box cutter to cut space around their mouths. I set the insert in the large tray and set some bear stuffed animals into one small tray and corn kernels into another.

The corn kernels were a nice fine motor activity to pinch the individual ones to feed to the bears. He also fed the stuffed bears. Overall he enjoyed the one, also was really into the corn kernels so I’m excited to set out a whole tray of them for him. I’d rate 6/10.

The Caterpillar Insert

Q was excited about this one. We had seen a green one the other day so I knew I’d create some insert for him. I decided to make it a pom pom drop! I painted two caterpillars onto cardboard and placed the insert in the large tray. I reused the green rainbow rice and added some large bugs into one small tray and reused the white beans in the second small tray and added in some pom poms.

It hit me while he was playing i should have make this a color matching drop – so I’ll be up-cycling this to that! He really was loving dropping the pom poms in and spent a long time here going back and forth – i’d rate is 8/10.

The Counting Insert

So this was an interest without a space for Q to drop something into – he was a little confused by it after an assortment of activities with spaces to drop onto- but he figured it out. Counting has been part of our play for a long while and he’s really grasping 1,2,3 and recognizing quantities. I painted numbers onto cardboard with quantities next to each. I added some of my hand painted matching disks to the bin of white beans and in the small bin I added dyed fall pasta and fall loose parts from my favorite Chickadees Wooden Toys. (Use SCOTTCOTTAGE10 for 10% off !) . He had fun counting and exploring the loose parts. I’d rate this one 9/10. .

The Seasonal Tree Insert

This is one we can use over and over again and it was as simple as painting a tree onto the cardboard. Again Q was looking for a drop in activity, but quickly found it fun adding leaves onto the tree giving us the opportunity to talk about the fall season – we love fall around here! I simply reused the small bins from the counting play. I’d rate this one 5/10 – he liked adding on the leaves but overall wasn’t super interested past that.

I’d highly recommend this table.

Unfortunately it’s sold out at IKEA, they do have some for double the price on amazon. I hope they will be stocking some soon. As Q gets older I find he brings most of the ideas to the table and out set ups become simpler as his imagination really does the rest. This table allows to keep in sensory bins and just cover them up at the end of the days. This will be such a fun table for outside play. I hope my waterproofing tips help, we love messy play and I feared destroying this table quickly.

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