How to make a bubble table. You’re welcome.

So it is the first day of the first full week of my daughters’ summer vacation. If you’re a parent, you may very well be like me in that just thinking about having the house full of children all day, every day, with no school or other activities to engage their attention makes you feel … well, nutty. I decided that this summer I would provide a few more fun things for them to do to keep them out of my hair and me outside the loony bin. First off, I went to Hobby Lobby and bought nine bottles of tempera paint in the good basic colors as well as two 100-foot rolls of paper, as well as a bag of assorted brushes. We’ve rolled out that paper on the tile in the entryway and the girls have had a good ol’ time. Now, granted, I’ve kept the paint and pretty much all non-Color Wonder crayons, paints, markers, etc. out of the room of the 6-year-old because even up until very recently she has not proved herself to be at all responsible with their use. So these paints are still not in her room, but stepping up to letting her use them was a bit of a leap of faith for me (control and clean freak that I sometimes can be). So far, so good.

Next idea: making a bubble table. Now, my girls were entertained for a good long time at San Francisco’s Exploratorium last fall just at the big bubble table. Exploratorium bubble table

They could probably have stayed there for the whole of our visit, but there were other children who wanted to use it. So I’ve been trying to find somewhere online that describes how to make one for home use. I searched on Pinterest and had no luck. So I came up with my own version. Here’s what we did:

First, for the “table” part: I wanted to have some kind of large but shallow metal containers that could hold the bubble solution. I finally hit upon using restaurant-grade serving containers, the kind that are used in big buffet tables. I was lucky enough to find three of a good size at our local Smart and Final. Buying three at a time also reduced the price for me on this visit, so each one was $12. Now, if you’d like to keep this DIY cheaper, you could use the $2 foil containers of similar size, but I figured I’d end up replacing those a lot, so the $12 per container was a good investment. I also had to have three because I have four kids, one of whom is old enough to not really need/want to use the bubble table. The younger three, though, definitely each need their own.

metal serving containers

Next, I wondered what in the world I’d use for large rings. The Exploratorium had big rings with handles on them, which I figured I wouldn’t find anywhere. My husband then became the genius when he came up with the idea of using tomato cages, like this one at the right: tomato cage


Using his wire cutters, he clipped off the circle parts of the cages from the long straight “stick” parts of the cage and left just a few inches of those straight pieces on the circles. Then he bent each down into a little curlicue that the girls could hold.

making a tomato cage into rings

Last is the bubble solution. I’ve found a few recipes online, including one that’s been circulating on Pinterest and Facebook that uses corn syrup. So far, I think I like the recipe that uses glycerin. But since I just set it up an hour ago, it may well be that any of the bubble solutions will work better tomorrow after having time to sit and mix nicely and evaporate just so. Here is a link to some recipes. As I said, I think I like the one that uses 1 gallon of water, 2/3 cup of dish detergent liquid, and 2 or 3 tablespoons of glycerin.

I set up my three metal serving containers on an old desk that’s on our back patio that my oldest uses for her art projects. It’s not pretty back there, but it’s fun and useful. At any rate, now that desk is the bubble table.

bubble table setup

bubble tableAnd I’ve been hearing a whole lot of happy squealing from three girls for an hour now. Yes! Score one for summertime mama.

Author: Cathy Carmode Lim

I'm a copy editor, writer, and book reviewer with three decades of experience. My book review website is I'm a mom of four and grandma of three.

2 thoughts on “How to make a bubble table. You’re welcome.”

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