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Member since:30.07.2008


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Summer Is Coming And The Garden Toys Are Coming Out


Hard wearing, lots of fun

Quite low height

Recommendable Yes:

Detailed rating:

Age Group

Wear and Tear

Value for Money

33 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
exceptional by (14%):
  1. phoenixgreen
  2. AnneLorraine1
  3. BazzaBoyT
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very helpful by (86%):
  1. MrBrightside1987
  2. YourFatFriend
  3. Juliet101
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A Toy For The Garden

We have just got this out of our garage for its third summer of fun in our lovely little garden. Our garden is really rather small and non-grassy, so at the time of buying we were looking for something that would allow our daughters to play outside in the sun, and also something that they would get a lot of fun and use from. So during a visit to the Early Learning Centre I noticed this straight away because it was out on display (minus the sand and water). My eldest daughter immediately went over to it and started faffing about with the toys that came with it.

After discussions with my husband, who thought at £45 it was quite pricey, I finally persuaded him that it would be worth it in the end. And due to it being out on display, we could see how sturdy it was, the height of it, whether my eldest daughter would be able to reach across it & into it etc with ease (the youngest was a baby at the time so she didn’t factor into these equations at that point), and she could do all of these things so we decided to take the plunge.

At the time there were two colours to choose from, a blue one and a pink one. I would have just bought the pink one because we have two girls, but my husband is sick of all things pink so in the end we opted for the blue & red one. On looking on ELC’s website I have noticed that they don’t actually have the blue one anymore, it is either pink or red, but the design has stayed exactly the same – which proves that it must be a good toy for them not to change it! We also had to buy a sack of play sand, which was £4.99, also from the ELC.


When we got the sand pit home we had to assemble it ourselves, and this was pretty straight forward. There are two sections to the actual pit (one for water and one for sand (or whatever you want to put in them) and they just screwed together, 4 broad sturdy legs clipped on underneath and that was it - ready to go.

Both sides of the pit have two bungs which you insert before filling with water and sand, and I suppose the idea is that these help to contain the sand or water and make it easier for you to empty the pit once you have finished. Obviously the side with the sand does not require these bungs to be removable, but the water side does.

What I have noticed is that they are pretty difficult to remove once in position and they do leak very slightly. This doesn't cause much of a problem because it is only a very slow drip but I would still have expected them to be water tight. Also, it is much easier to just tilt the sand pit and pour the water out rather than try and 'un-bung' the hole. (A minor issue in my opinion).

8 Additional Toys!?!

It's advertised that you get 8 toys with this sand pit and I suppose this is correct, in a way. You get a star shaped thing with which you can make star prints in the sand, a plastic sand rake/fork type thing, a shovel, a large spoon/ladel, and a boat (that's 5 toys). Then you also get some ‘toys’ which fix into the middle of the sand pit and you pour water through the funnels at the top and the wheels underneath spin under the weight of the water (these account for the remainder of the 8 toys).

These are all pretty good and I was quite impressed with the fact that they actually came with the sand pit because I would have expected to buy the toys separately.

Put A Lid On It

The pit also comes with a two piece lid with which clips very tightly into position when not in use. It has a really tight fit so you know you can leave it out overnight and the sand inside will not get contaminated by animals or rain etc. The lid also doubles up as a road for toy cars - quite a good idea actually. Unfortunately I became quite lazy last year with replacing the lid every night and so rainwater would get in the sand and bits of leaf and stuff gets blown into the sand and water – so don’t be lazy and put the lid back on when the pit is not in use.

Time To Play

Year 1

During the first year that we had this toy, my eldest was 2 and when she first saw it she was a bit unsure of what she was meant to do with it. So I had to show her that you can dig in the sand with the toys provided and get your hands dirty, or you can splash about in the water side and play with the boat or pour water into the funnels.

To be honest she wasn't that interested in the toys provided, she wanted to get her 'Night Garden Toys' (the running theme during the terrible twos!) But once she had her NG Toys she played for hours just splashing around with them. She also used to put them in the funnels and in the boat so she did eventually start using the toys provided. That first summer the pit was mainly used for water play, the sand did not particularly interest her.

Year 2

During the second year of use...enter my youngest daughter aged about 18 months...cue lots of sand and water all over the entire garden. My eldest is very neat and tidy and tends to focus on one thing when she is playing – so she will either play in the sand or the water, never both at the same time– it never occurred to her to start mixing them together. That is until my youngest daughter started pouring water into the sand, and sand into the water, and emptying the contents of her hands, bucket, whatever vessel she could find, all over the garden. Then it struck my eldest daughter that experimenting with things and making a mess was actually pretty good fun.

And so it began, my endless quest to keep the sand dry, water clear, and my garden not dowsed in sand; I never did succeed. But what I was quite sure of was that my kids were having a damn good time messing up my garden and drenching themselves in the process. However, the problem then lies in trying to prevent the sand from going green and mouldy and smelly, and the water from festering, although I would change the water most days, if I remembered. You could often see me on a night trying to water my plants with the water from the sand pit and attempting to spread the sand out in vain attempts to dry it out.

The children tended to play with their favourite toys in the water and sand rather than the ones provided. As I said above, the Night Garden toys were a favourite, but also squeezy bath toys and other small plastic animals. This was all well and good, but trying to keep them clean throughout summer was a bit of a task, and as it happened I ended up slinging a lot of them in the bin at the end of last year, especially the squeezy ones. Most of them ended up being covered in a layer of slime which was difficult to remove. This is my fault for not being meticulous in cleaning and drying them every night after the kids had finished playing. They would often get left in the wet sand and this is how the slime developed.
Year 3

This year it’s going to be all about the water, both sides of the pit will be filled with water, sand is staying elsewhere! I am not having slimy green sand, or slimy plastic animals festering all summer. It’s going to stay clean and fresh for the entire far so good, but it’s only been out a couple of weeks...time will tell.

Has It Stood The Test of Time?

Well after 2 years you would expect some sort of sun bleaching or deterioration and to be honest this is minimal. Some of the toys are a bit scratched and have faded to a certain extent, but nothing major. The pit itself is still in remarkable condition, but we do keep it in the garage over winter so it is not subject to harsh weather conditions, and I do try and clean it sporadically throughout summer to maintain its cleanliness.

Other Useful Information

The actual pit stands about 45cm high which is pretty low in my opinion, especially since it's aimed at age 3 and higher. It was the perfect height for my eldest daughter when she was 2 (she’s now 4) but as she has grown, it has actually felt too low for her and she has to have a chair or stool to sit on so she is not stooping over too much as she plays. My youngest, now aged 2 ½ is now also a too tall to be stood playing, and also need a chair to sit on to prevent stooping. This seems strange to me especially since it is aimed at 3 years and above.


All in all I am really quite pleased with our purchase, especially since it is coming into its 3rd year of use, I think it is great value for money, even at the hefty price of £45. I highly recommend it to others who are looking for something to entertain the kids in the garden, although the height may be an issue for some older children.

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Comments about this review »

MrBrightside1987 22.05.2011 00:47

Superb review :)

phoenixgreen 07.04.2011 21:20

Excellent review, we have actually been looking into one for our little one, and having read this review, I think we'll probably take the plunge too! Kate x

pennywa 06.04.2011 22:45

Bloody brilliant review but all out of E's - will be back xxx

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Early Learning Centre ELC Sand and Water Table

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ELC Sand and Water Table

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Product Information »

Manufacturer's product description

Fantastic dual-use table sandpit for sand and water play. Comes with eight different toys, cover and detachable leg...

Product details

Type Outdoor Fun
Age 3 Years +
MPN 117221; 122808


Listed on Ciao since 30/06/2010

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This review of Early Learning Centre Sand and Water Table has been rated:

"exceptional" by (14%):

  1. phoenixgreen
  2. AnneLorraine1
  3. BazzaBoyT

and 2 other members

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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