My 3 year old was bored today. I decided to let her have some sensory play and created this toy out of things around the house. It is modeled after a sensory table I saw in my son's preschool long ago.
You will need a sweater box, a handful of small toys, 5 lbs of rice or dried beans or dried corn and a large blanket.
Place the blanket flat on the floor of the play space. Put box in the middle of the blanket. Place the small toys at bottom of the box. Pour the rice over top of toys.
Let the child find the toys and then otherwise enjoy the feel of the rice. My daughter got some of her pretend kitchen toys and poured rice from one bowl to another for about an hour. Then she got inside the box, squishing the rice between her toes and declared she was "at the beach" and making sand "cassies" (castles).
I didn't think of the blanket until I tried to clean up the rice explosion. Would have been nice to be able to pull the corners up on the blanket and pour the rice back into the box. I thought I would just sweep it up and dump it in, but all the dirt comes up too... Yuck.