One of my college-aged daughters recently attended a sand therapy workshop. Don't know if this site is the same but it's a site with some info. She's preparing to be some kind of counselor yet to be determined. I understand that counselors use sand play for therapy - to help people sort out life and perhaps to help put people back together.
In Christie's workshop they used cardboard boot boxes (as in shoe boxes) so each participant had their own sand box. Therapy is one-on-one but if you have adequate adult supervision and use large wide cardboard boxes, with thick plastic bag liners that you can fold over the edges of the box to play and twist tie closed when you're done, you can give each child their own tray and if it's deeper than a cookie sheet MAYBE (no promises here) it would be a little less messy. They could also be used outside in good weather. When you're shopping, you might find other appropriate boxes, plastic dishpans, wooden box lids, or disposable metal pans . Then you collect lots of little toys and objects to play with and to act out Bible stories or stories from real life. You can even create your own small toys with older kids.
You take a therapy technique (the idea probably came from children playing in the sand to begin with) and just turn it back into a form of play but use it for pretending, playing, and telling stories with concrete objects. Obviously, you wouldn't want to use sand and small toys with children who still put things in their mouths. I would think that especially for Bible stories sand would be nice. If I remember correctly they may use a sand tray or table in Godly Play but this is a way for each child to have their own sand space so they can each create and tell their own stories. I also realize that they find this particularly beneficial if the child has an adult listener but either way, it gives children one more creative outlet for their stories, for play, for pretending, for processing life.