During the Summer our Nature Table transforms several times. For the past couple of years, the beachy version of our nature collection and play space is often the favorite. It is played with more than any other tableau of the year and this time around I had the idea to add actual sand. It is messy, but Naiya just loves hiding shells and special stones in there, and the little people enjoy all kinds of adventures on the sea and shore alike. The sand area is actually one of those rake-able decorative tabletop Zen gardens that my brother made for me many years ago. The sand is special glass sand (that was also part of my brother's gift) and so produces no dust (but still gets scattered about the house). One could also use regular sand and a high edged baking sheet or box for this purpose.
Hours of fun for those quiet, restful afternoons spent out of the heat of the day (and a great place to display the many shells and stones found on our outdoor Summer explorations).