In our learning space:
I really wanted to find and alternative to the writing tray found here: http://www.montessoriservices.com/language/writing/writing-tray-with-lid. Since it costs $65 plus shipping and handling it was definitely out of our budget. I found it very attractive and it reminded me of writing on the sand at the beach. I went to JoAn fabrics store with two 50% off coupons and I found this unfinished box with a latch and a set for making bottles with colored sand. I spent $8! and my daughter loves it. the best part is that I have four colorful bags of sand and the little wood only "pencil."
Here she is writing using her finger, and using the wood stick. I believe she enjoys using her finger more.
Here is another variation of a product that can be done inexpensively at home. My little guy seemed interested in hammering anything. I loved the idea of getting this set: http://www.montessoriservices.com/practical-life/woodworking/hammering/hammering-shapes But to save money (and quite honestly I think my version looks better and it is safer), I went to Target and bought a frame, some cork sheets, and really big tacks. I found his plastic hammer and Voila!
It is not exactly the same activity but it carries the idea. I am hoping to find plastic shapes and just drill holes in them to use small nails, or tacks once he gets older.
Cutting the cork sheets. I used three sheets to leave plenty of room for the tacks to sink in. I use wood glue in between the sheets, and the frame. It made it look perfect, and it was harder for the little one to tear the cork apart.
Both kids love it. With my daughter I was able to show her how to hold the tack without hitting her fingers.