I received the most helpful and creative ideas in the comments section of my post about making the most of our tiny urban patio (see previous post Here). If you have a moment, take a read through and if you took the time to write, thank you so much!
Knowing my boy's tendency to dump everything out I opted for a DIY water bucket rather than a sand bucket. I've seen some tutorials online for building your own standing DIY water table which we are considering making for him but I first wanted to see if he would actually play with a water bucket for extended periods.... he does! He does also pour water all over the patio and often dumps the whole thing out but the creative play encouraged by this water bucket and various outdoor toys has been a great extra play area for him.
Theo spent an overnight in the suburbs with our amazing, generous friends with a big backyard that included a pirate ship water table, water guns and a bouncy castle! Suffice it to say he keeps asking to go back. I did have some pangs of guilt that we don't offer him a big backyard right now. But instead, in the last week, we went to the waterpark 10 blocks from our house and spent the day at the beach, a 15 minute drive from our home. Remembering that while we love our small space it can't do everything and using the whole amazing city as our backyard is the answer.