We have a six year old water table. It was bought for E1's first birthday and it is the gift that keeps on giving. In the warmer months it is filled with water and in the cooler months it's filled with rice and beans. The girls enjoy playing with this outdoor activity so much. We put in the table measuring cups, measuring spoons, funnels, plastic animals, plastic cars, and anything else we think might be fun. Tupperware has found its way in and so have plastic utensils. This year, the girls added an ice cream scooper. (Why not)
Without even knowing it the girls work on pouring and spooning skills, measuring skills, sensory skills, etc. They love to use their imagination and work together to create elaborate scenes within the table. I am amazed at their excitement each year when the water table turns to rice & beans and then back again to a water table.
*You should only buy rice & beans if you do not mind a few bean sprouts in the spring time. My girls know the rice and beans are supposed to stay in the table, but every year they 'sneak off' to plant a bean garden.
**The table is filled with a 20 lb bag of rice and 8 lbs of pinto beans.