I’ve been hearing so much fun stuff about water beads, I decided to go on a hunt for them. After going to two different stores, I finally found some in the vase/flower section of Michaels. If you aren’t sure what water beads are exactly, they were designed to be used in flower arrangements. They suck up water and expand into “mushy” (Lorelai’s description!) little marbles. They are non-toxic, and while they weren’t intended to be played with by children, many parents – including me – and educators find them to be an awesome sensory material. I think the rule of thumb here is to just be sure your child is old enough to know not to eat them. There is a bit of a choking hazard here, so stay with your child while they play!
So, I bought two little bags of water beads. I wish I had taken a picture of the “before”… they are tiny little seed-like things, no bigger than a mustard seed. You fill a bowl with water, put some in (a little bit makes a LOT), and wait 4-6 hours. After about 1 hour, we started playing. They weren’t completely full, but they were big enough for Lore to have a blast playing with them. We did half a bag (10 grams-ish) of the blue and a few shakes of the clear into our bowl of water.
Lorelai had a BLAST playing with these. No exaggerating. She has always loved getting her hands messy and she absolutely loved playing with the water beads. We both dug in with our hands and tried finding the clear ones; they are transparent underwater.
She scooped and splashed, rolled them between her hands, and did her best trying to describe them to me when I asked. “Mushy, bumpy, smooth… I don’t know Mommy, but they are pretty cool.”
The cats stayed with us the entire time we played (about an hour and a half). They were mesmerized!
We even played Pet Adoption with the free printable sheet I made last week. We pretended like the water beads were fish eggs. We took turns adopting the baby fish!
We grabbed a couple of her beach toys and used them to strain the beads out of the water. The beads are really neat. Underwater, they don’t even resemble beads. As I mentioned before, the clear ones are invisible. The blue ones look fuzzy and faint.
Overall, I think this afternoon sensory activity was very fun! We both enjoyed it immensely and plan on making more tomorrow. I guess I should mention that these water beads will hold water for a long time (I think I heard 30 days?) before the water releases. However, ours didn’t make it a day. I had put the bowl on the kitchen counter after we were finished playing. Lorelai went back a little while later and spilled the entire thing. Half went straight down into the trash and the other half bounced around the kitchen. It was quite a sight! Note: try not to let that happen! lol