DIY: How to Make An Activity Table


Is your little one in desperate need of their own “space” to draw, play, or even snack? Maybe you’re on a strict budget so one of those completely adorable toddler activity tables from the store is just a bit too pricey to commit to? Perhaps you could purchase a generic one secondhand, but you’d rather have one that’s a bit more easy on the eyes and/or fits the style of your home? This DIY activity table is for you! For under $50, I was able to make my own adorable (if I do say so myself!) toddler activity table for my little one!

What You’ll Need:

  1. Table and chairs – $19.99
  2. Rail – $1.99
  3. Tubs – $0.79 each
  4. Fabric – $6
  5. 1 inch foam – $8
  6. Paint (sample size) – $7
  7. Paint brush
  8. Staple gun (or reasonable alternative)
  9. Scissors or x-acto knife
  10. Glue *optional*

Set up your work station.

I utilized the box from the IKEA table set as my set up and painting area (see above).

DIY Activity Table

Assemble the table and chairs.

I assembled everything ahead of time so I could get my first coat of paint done in one fell swoop. 


I purchased sample paints from Lowe’s and had way more than I needed to cover the surface of the chairs and table. I chose a mint color for the chairs and an off-white color for the table. Be sure to use varied brush strokes so it doesn’t streak!

TIP: Paint the wood before putting it together. I didn’t do that because I’m impatient and I thought it’d be more efficient to paint with it put together so I could reach all sides of the table/chairs at once and avoid waiting for each side to dry before starting a new one. It was definitely more time efficient, but I’m positive it would look more “clean” had I done it the other way.


Cut foam to fit inside section of chair.

You can do this a few ways, but I measured the opening where the seat would fit while my chairs were assembled. This gave me a more accurate measurement of exactly how large a surface area I’d like my foam to be. You can use the chair inserts they provide you, but you’ll want to take about a quarter of an inch off each side to account for how the seat slides into place. The foam was surprisingly difficult to cut through so I ended up using an x-acto knife to ensure my lines were straight.

DIY Activity TableUpholster.

Utilizing glue, secure the foam to the center of the fiberboard seat (this is optional, but helpful). Stretch your fabric evenly, print side up, over the foam. Keeping your pieces together, flip over the fiberboard and fold your fabric pieces into place. I didn’t do any fancy folding, just pulled everything tight enough so there wouldn’t be any lumps or bumps. Secure with staple gun.

Disassemble chair to insert seats.

I disassembled the front piece of the chair first to see if I could just slide my finished seat cushion into place. I figured it might need some gentle pushing, but truly wasn’t prepared for how tight of a fit it was. Depending on the size foam you select and the fabric you choose, you may be able to just slide it into place, but that didn’t work for me. After some trial and error, I sanded down the slots in each side of the chair to make it easier to get my pieces in. Just do it ahead of time; it’ll make your life a lot easier.

TIP: Do not “bang” the seat cushion into place. It can be really tempting to just muscle the seat into place once it’s upholstered – I DON’T RECOMMEND THIS. It’s ridiculously easy to split the wood and it’s just not worth the risk after you’ve put in the time to paint, upholster, and assemble it.

Secure rail to the side of the table.

Choose a side, center the rail onto the side of the table, and use a pencil to mark where each screw will need to go. IKEA does NOT include screws with this rail system, so you may need to purchase some or use any that you have lying around the house (like I did). Screw into place, then put the rail on top of the screws. Place buckets onto rail and VOILA!

You did it! This took me approximately 2 hours to complete (not including time for the paint to dry) and the end product is swoon-worthy! A fully personalized, functional, and cute toddler activity table for under $50! If you give it a try – please let us know in the comments below and share your results using #nphxmoms! We’d love to see your gorgeous creations!

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Born and raised in Phoenix, Felicia married her high school sweetheart and became a mother to a beautiful baby girl in March of 2016. An experienced educator, she graduated from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Elementary Education, a M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction: Language and Literacy and spent seven incredible years teaching in the heart of South Phoenix. Known to be a total sap, Felicia has no shame in admitting that she cries at just about anything: movies, sentimental commercials, and yes, even sporting events when she is overcome with happiness for a complete stranger’s accomplishments. She’s a serial creator, constantly dreaming up new ideas and ventures. Exploring the outdoors is a family value, so you may find her and the family hiking local trails, planning adventures, and soaking in the sunshine while the weather is still cool. When she’s not relishing in family time, you can catch her teaching Literacy for Littles at Modern Milk.


    • Yes, they’re both from IKEA! Under the materials list, it should link directly to the product pages… the SUNNERSTA Rail and SUNNERSTA Containers! Happy DIYing!


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