If you look closely, you will also find a couple of other levels. There is the floor, which is the same as the bottom of the grey plastic container into which sand drops out of the tube. This arrangement of the tube over the edge of the table expands the area of play around the table, adds another physical level of play, and offers an interesting spacial arrangement that is attractive and allows for a different view of the sand as drops out of the tube.
This apparatus was made with a long, narrow box and six tubes of various sizes. One tube was a clear and rippled, four were pvc pipes of two different diameters, and one was a cardboard tube. I did not cut any of them for this apparatus. I used them as is. The two longer tubes were placed on the ends of the box so they could be placed over the end of the table. The four others were placed in the middle.
I traced the the tubes on top of the box and cut out the circle with a utility knife. I flipped the box over and repeated the same tracing and cutting. I inserted the tubes into the box. The two longer tubes were inserted so only one end extended beyond the box. I then duct taped the tubes both on the top and on the bottom so they would not move.
As you can see, some of the tubes are flush with the top and some are not. The two end tubes extend downward out of the box. The picture above shows the setup from this year. The box is reversed from the previous year's setup; the long white tube is now the one that extends outside the table. And there is no tray in this variation. That was not planned. I thought the apparatus extended over both ends of the table. It did not, but I had left the tray at home. When I wanted to set it up, I had to improvise with something I had at school. (I find myself doing that a lot---improvising, that is.) One of the first things I found looked like a little ladder. It fit across the table so I taped it onto the table and then the box onto it. I fully intended to bring a tray the next day, but the ladder support introduced an airy space providing the children with a new area to explore over, under, around, and through.
Here is another version of the apparatus that actually extends beyond both ends of the table. This was easier to attach because all I had to do was to make notches in the box on each end and set the box over the ends of the table. The bottom of the box sits above the bottom of the table so the material can empty out of the tubes. Notice, though, that this configuration does not have the tubes that empty into a container outside of the table.
One further difference is that the space between the bottom of the box and the bottom of the table is quite a bit narrower than the one pictured first in this blog entry. That is ok, it just means the children will figure out how to work in a different-sized space. That is a challenge they are always up to.
It's all about spaces, levels of play, and holes.