Ready, steady… create! An activity table is a multi-functional key element in any classroom or learning environment. From giving each kid enough personal space to allowing them to form different groups whenever needed, activity tables are versatile tools on their educational journey.
That's only if you pick the right ones for them, though! Here's what you should consider in order to choose activity tables that match your young students' needs.
What Are the Best Types of Tables for Different Activities & Scenarios?
Kids activity tables come in a large variety of colors: whether you're striving for a vibrant, stimulating environment or a calming space that helps them focus, it won't be hard to find the perfect hue. However, the most important thing is actually to find tables whose layout matches the right activity and scenario:
- If your students are very young, need frequent assistance and are required to draw on the spot or write ideas to share with others, whiteboard tables will be a pivotal learning tool: they encourage quick-thinking, brainstorming, teacher demonstrations and collaboration;
- Do your students engage in activities that require the same tools, such as drawing or painting? Then a storage table would be the most practical choice: whether you opt for drawers, shelves or compartments, you'll spare your little learners from always having to carry their stuff back and forth;
- If the tables usually stay in the same spot, normal legs will do; however, if you often encourage your students to form new groups and collaborate with different friends, tables with wheels will unlock a whole new level of flexibility.
What Is the Best Shape for an Activity Table?
- Rectangular, trapezoid and round tables are extremely versatile and particularly useful for older kids, as they can be used for group lessons as well as meetings and events; they're more suitable if your students usually work on their own or in the same groups rather than forming new ones every time;
- When creating different groups to work on a project, tables with the same or complementary shapes will result in a practical and wider work surface;
- For the youngest kids, we recommend kidney or horseshoe shapes: they let the teacher be in the middle and retain their attention more easily;
- Space-optimizing flower-shaped or octagonal tables allow each kid to have their own little section while also encouraging group collaboration.
What Is the Right Size for an Activity Table?
Consider the number of kids and the dimensions of the classroom, but don't forget to leave enough room to pull out the chairs and walk around them!
For a kid to sit comfortably, allow them around 18-20 inches (in width) of personal space, 60" between tables, and 48" of aisle room.
- To sit 2 kids, you could look at an 18x48" rectangular table, or a 20-24" square or round design;
- To sit 4, a 18x96" rectangular table, or 36" if square or round;
- For 6-8, square tables start to be a bit cumbersome: opt for a 36x60" rectangular or a 60" round table; flower-shaped and octagonal shapes would definitely optimize your classroom's space better when sitting lots of kids at the same table.
As for height, you've got two options:
- Choose the right height for their age: 10-18" for toddlers; 18-26" for elementary school; and 26-32" for a standard-height table;
- Invest in height-adjustable tables: they're usually more expensive, but they'll save you money in the long run, either because they'll allow you to accommodate different age-groups in the same classroom or because they'll grow with your students, so you won't need to replace them after a few years.
What Is the Best Material for an Activity Table?
As for table tops, laminate, plastic and whiteboard are the best materials: they're durable, waterproof and easy to clean. Plastic, especially, is very lightweight, making these frames more suitable for the youngest kids.
- Metal is a popular and sturdy frame material, and it often allows height-regulating options.
- Wood can help you achieve a traditional, old-style feel, but, because it can be easily stained and might even result in splinters if not looked after properly, we only recommend it for older kids or activities that don't involve wet, messy materials.
Are There Any Safety Aspects to Keep in Mind When Choosing Activity Tables for Kids?
Yes! Your new activity tables should help you create a safe space, not bring a new hazard into the classroom. Stay clear of tables with particularly pointy and hard edges, as well as unsanded wood which could result in splinters.
If your students are very young, make sure that their tables have thick legs and are quite short and sturdy: this will reduce the risk of them pulling the tables onto themselves when standing up, and prevent them from hurting themselves if they manage to do so.
We know, that was a lot to take in all at once. However, now that you know exactly what to look for, it'll be much easier to choose activity tables that match your specific requirements! Here are the most important things to remember:
- Features like whiteboard-tops, storage tables or wheels should be considered for specific activities and needs
- Rectangular, trapezoid and round table are the most versatile, whereas kidney or horseshoe shapes are more suitable for teacher-centered lessons for the youngest kids; flower or octagonal tables are more space-saving
- As for size, consider both the number of kids and the class's dimensions, leaving them 18-20 inches each, 60" for chair room, and 48" of aisle space
- You can either choose the right size for a specific age-group or go for height-adjustable tables that will grow with them
- Laminate, whiteboard and plastic are the best materials for your table top; the last one is particularly handy for toddlers
- Keep safety in mind! Avoid sharp pointy edges or unsanded wood, and make sure that toddlers have short lightweight tables with thicker legs.