My two boys, like a lot of children their age, are verging on obsession in regards to YouTube. Usually they watch other people play games that they have (and don’t play), or they watch complete strangers open ‘surprise eggs’.
When my 6 year old came to me and told me he had seen something on YouTube, I thought I was about to have another hour of being asked the same question over and over again “please can I have 100 surprise eggs to open?”. To my surprise, he told me about water beads. He showed them to me on YouTube. These tiny little beads start smaller than a grain of rice, add them to water and they grow to the size of marbles. I welcome any activity that interests my boys enough to tear themselves away from some sort of screen and as a huge fan of sensory play, I was intrigued to see them in action.
I did a bit of research to make sure they were suitable to use with my children and I decided to order some from Amazon. The water beads I bought can be found here – Amazon – Water Beads
Today I am going to share our adventure with water beads, but before I do, I must stress that these water beads are not edible, they should not be used with children that may put them in their mouths. There are edible versions that can be found on Pinterest that are suitable for younger children – Edible Water Beads. My boys are 6 and 8 and understood that they must not put them in their mouth.
When our water beads arrived the next day, they came in lots of little packets, 2 of each colour. I decided to use blue, green and clear beads to create an ocean themed sensory bin. I used a clear storage box to put the beads in and half filled it with water. I left it for around 4 hours before going back. I was amazed with how inviting they looked. I decided to use them on our light panel and the result was beautiful!
I added some ocean toys including sea creatures, shells and toy seaweed. Then I used our transparent letters to spell out ‘OCEAN’. I bought these letters from a fantastic resources website, Imagido. Find them here Alphabet Transparent Letters
When the boys came home from school they dove straight in. They loved the feel of the water beads. They used tubs to add more water to the beads and little pots to transfer them from tub to tub. After around 30 minutes of play, they decided they wanted to see the water beads grow, so they grabbed another tub, more packets of water beads and off they went to the bathroom sink to get water. Watching them grow interested them almost as much as playing with them.
Over the next week, the water beads continued to be the go-to activity. Next they went in the Tuff tray.
Olly decided to use his little bin lorry to transport the water beads around the tray. When a few fell from the table, the boys discovered that the water beads bounce when they fall from a height. This lead to a whole new game, they spent an afternoon seeing who could bounce the beads higher and working out which bounced best, the big beads or the little beads.
The following week, the beads went back in the sensory bin on the light table. Olly chose to use spoons and tubs to scoop the water beads up and fill different sized tubs, counting how many he could fit in each tub.
All in all, the water beads have been a fantastic addition to our sensory play resources. For the small cost I would absolutely keep a stock of water beads, particularly useful for a rainy day activity. As I have a little one in the house I am interested in trying out the edible water beads when she is a little older and I am sure the boys will find them just as interesting!