After a fairly unsuccessful trip to the beach (weather!) we came home with a bucket of shells and a bag of sand for the sand pit in the garden; Jake was looking for things to do so I got out the yellow playdough, added some sand, some shells, pebbles, and also some soft brown sugar (because its like damp sand and different to the fine dry stuff we'd just got from the beach). I wanted to play just as much as Jake did; I love the feeling of sand in my hands (and feet!).
The sand gave the playdough an interesting texture, the shells were perfect for printing in the playdough (hand eye coordination, fine motor skills, shape recognition), they were also good for scooping the sand and sugar. The whole activity was a texture fest; feeling the rough jagged shells and the smooth pebbles, the grainy dry sand and the soft damp sugar, the squishy playdough, and mixing them up to get in betweens, and figuring out that some don't mix; so learning about object manipulation, malleable and non malleable materials, and recognising differences.
This would also work really well for a small world: beach activity, which we'll definitely be trying soon!