end of the season special

A few days ago I surprised my boys with a sand and water table. I am not sure why I held out so long, but one play experience at a friend’s home sold me on it (Thanks Amanda!). Originally, I was checking Craigslist for good deals, but most people wanted top dollar for an item that was very well used, at least around here. So a quick search on Amazon led me to dozens of tables to compare. I spent the best part of an evening searching and comparing, reading dozens of reviews. I finally found one that matched our needs: the colors were not obnoxious, the shape was rectangular which meant I could set it next to a wall or playhouse and it would fit snuggly, it had an umbrella for days when the wee little one played with it, and the price was right. It was discounted by a 1/3 off the normal price. That combined with free shipping made it a done deal.  

After a few days of water play for both boys, I put in the sand last night. It was so nice and clean, so inviting. In five minutes Elliott took care of that bit of order and got busy playing and mixing. Here he was busy making chocolate cinnamon cake, cinnamon cake, and mud bog cakes, which are to be served at – – mud bogs, of course! 

I did let Oliver have a go at it, but he was intent on eating the sand, despite the taste, the gritty feeling, and Mommy repeatedly saying “No!”

A reviewer of this table, Value Mommy, gave some wonderful tips for using the table. I liked them so much I copied them down, for days when I needed a fresh idea. I am sharing her ideas below for others to use to extend the life of their tables, even though the warmer season is winding down. 

(1) sand alone

(2) water alone

(3) potting soil/trowels/silk plants/plastic pots

(4) landscaping stones and small Tonka construction vehicles (aka “the quarry)

(5) bubble solution to use with the large wands and even the small and different wands (so that the kids aren’t fighting over the tiny opening of a tiny bottle of bubbles that inevitably gets spilled all over the patio)

(6) a Mommy-made iceberg (colored blue) on the hottest summer day with dollar store penguins and polar bears–you can even shave the iceberg to make snow (I used a putty knife) and put crushed ice (if your refrigerator makes it) in the water to make it a happier habitat

(7) dishwater and play dishes with sponges and scrubbers to play clean-up without making a mess at the sink like they do inside

(8) aquarium gravel/toys/plants with pretend fish

(9) sand over buried “fossils” (pretend dinosaur bones found at the local dollar store)

(10) sand sifter and dirt with various sizes of rocks that I spray painted gold

(11) measuring spoons/cups/jugs that teach lessons about volume — pair with bath color tablets to learn about color mixing!

(12) Did you know that Little People LOVE to go to the beach? (Off subject, they’re also not opposed to a tumble in the dishwasher!)

(13) any number of arts and crafts activities that I would rather do outside than inside (making slime, paper mache, etc.)

(14) tin pans/muffin cups paired with dirt/sticks/water mud for mud pies

(15) sand castles, of course!

(16) dinosaurs and various animals add a tremendous amount of play value to your basic sand environment.

For right now, I found the animal toobs on sale at Hobby Lobby and made a few bins for Elliott to add to the table.  As you can see, he was excited to get them out and set up a scene!

I foresee a great winter activity too – an indoor snow table! We already do that with a bowl of snow. But this, oh! I might be more excited than Elliott for snow. Okay, not really, but this will make the time pass faster the days we are trapped inside.



  1. Mary Perry said,

    September 18, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Speaking of a snow table – add this idea to it. After the snow is in the table have red, blue, and yellow coloring (primary colors) in separate containers (i.e. baby food jar) with an eye/medicene dropper in each to experiment with colors. It is fun to watch the snow turn color as the color is squirted on but not enough liquid to make the snow melt. They did this at Grace Perry’s preschool and the kids had a ball. It was on a day when I was able to go with her.

    • montessorimama said,

      September 19, 2010 at 7:45 pm

      This is a great idea. I added it to my list here at the house. I think it will be great to do snow and then make it colorful. Would work with ice I imagine, if a salt-water mix perhaps. The muck of sand and water is rather nasty. But, a positive for today: we covered a variety of land and water forms… lake, island, isthmus, straight, gulf, and peninsula. Another five minute lesson squeezed in there.

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