We have both a sand table and a water table. The sand table is useful year round, but the water table is pretty much a hot weather only attraction. I would like to use it during the fall/winter as an outdoor sensory table on the deck.
I'm just not sure what to fill it with. We don't need two sand tables. It needs to be something dry so that they can play in it with winter coats/gloves on if that's necessary. It also needs to be able to withstand some humidity without getting icky given that I'd like to leave it outside. Also, it needs to be something that is either big enough to easily retrieve and put back in the bin or environmentally friendly so that when it falls off the deck into the grass it won't mess with the grass or lawnmower in the summer (so no rocks or gravel).
I've considered rice, feed corn, dried beans, uncooked pasta, etc., but I'm worried that they wouldn't stand up well outdoors. I've searched a bit online, and the only idea that looks even vaguely workable is those decorative glass gems. If I can find them bulk and reasonably priced, they would be fun to dig in and pour, and large enough to just pick the ones that fall out back off the deck and dump them back in. On the other hand, the ones that escape will simply be glass hanging out in the back yard and that doesn't seem wise. I also don't know if they'll get chipped if played with roughly and then be sharp and dangerous to little fingers.
Does anyone have thoughts about the glass gem idea or any other suggestions?