In case you missed this piece of news, Ikea is coming to the Philippines although reports say it may take four to six years for the first branch to open, much to our dismay. This furniture retailer is beloved all over the world for its Swedish modern designs (and the meatballs!). But for anyone with a small space and who can't hire an interior decorator, Ikea is your playground.
The beauty of many of Ikea's designs is a piece can have many uses — a table isn't just a table. Take the "Flisat" children's desk as an example. If you are pregnant or you just gave birth, you will get your money's worth if you buy this table first when Ikea gets here.
Ikea describes the Flisat table as "a practical place for arts and crafts as well as a useful storage solution." Yes, you can tuck storage boxes (Ikea product name: "Trofast") in different sizes and colors underneath the table. Since the table has lids, you can quickly clean up toys and art supplies. But our favorite use of the table (and why it's a must-buy in our books) is when it becomes a sensory table.
Your baby soaks information like a sponge, and he does it with his senses. He explores and learns the world through his sense of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. Any activity that will stimulate and nurture these senses can be treated as sensory play.
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Toddler schools and preschools will each have a version of a sensory experience. Their tools are likely a table or a bin filled with water, play dough, rice or beans, or even slime! The idea is to let children get in there and see, smell, touch (or grab, scoop, and dump) the myriad of textures and materials. The benefits of sensory play are not just about knowing how these things feel or look like; it helps the kids learn how to describe "soft" or "hard." Aside from linguistic skills, it also builds cognitive skills and fosters social skills.
At home, moms do sensory play with the use of bins and tubs. But if you don't have outdoor space or you're pressed for clean-up time often, that's when Ikea's Flisat table becomes handy because it can contain the mess (or at least most of it). Take a look!
This table from Little Play Ideas shows a "dragon habitat." Since the girls don't get to handle their dad's lizard much, this sensory table allows having a pet lizard to play with, using the tongs to feed him just like their dad.
This mom set out kinetic sand for her daughter's sensory table with a selection of tools. "She has spent all day back and forth to the table and most of that time has been spent making ice creams or porridge or tea with the sand and a couple of the tools."
Pass off your sensory table as home decor! Casey Patch of Life Long Learners in Australia showed off how she did her first sensory table. The theme is endangered animals. The "grass" is green split peas. She also had chickpeas, pebbles, blocks, and artificial plants.
Flisatfun is an Instagram account that chronicles a mom's sensory play adventures using the Flisat table. This uses dry corn packaging beads, which became "squishy and sticky" when water was added sticky, much to the kids' delight.
And you know how kids love playing with the blocks at the toy stores? They never want to leave. You can have the same experience at home. A table that can get toddlers preoccupied for at least 30 minutes? Sold!
If not a study table, how about a super cool geoboard for your preschooler? This mom created shapes with items from around the house. She used cork pan stands and pins to make the boards and gave the kids elastic bands and shapes for copying.
A look at the online price of Ikea Flisat table shows it to be at US$49.99 (around Php2,662), which we recommend you look at as a toy expense with all the sensory activities you can do with it. Of course, you can also just use bins, which are way more affordable. You can also take inspo from this mom who shows it's all about being creative.