I have been wanting to get some water beads for the kids for a long time. It's something I used in the classroom occasionally and the children always loved the sensory experience and so much spontaneous learning happened through their play.
I have not been able to locate any water beads in the shops recently but I know I used to get them from $2 shops. You can purchase them online and I know through eBay, I just had never got around to ordering any. Then walking through my local shopping centre the day before Hman and Miss M were having their surgeries (grommets, tonsils and adenoids) I bumped into a little store selling them! Woohoo- perfect timing as I knew water bead play would be the perfect thing to keep their mind off the pain while we were stuck at home during their recovery period.
Water Beads before you soak them in water. This is how they look when you buy them.
They come in various sizes and are non toxic making them safe for children to play with. They do swell when added to water so if ingested by your child will swell. For this reason I suggest sticking to the marble sizes water beads. Easily passed if they happen to be ingested, however I advice constant supervision when playing with water beads with children. I was very clear with my children, 2yrs and 4yrs, that they were for playing with and not for eating. They both understood and even my 2yo did not attempt to try one out even though he has been known to eat all sorts if things- he was too busy enjoying the incredible sensation of them!!
Depending on the size of your beads leave then to soak for around 4-6hrs till they have swelled to final size. Drain any left over water and you are ready to play!
Marble sized water beads ready to play with!
Hman smiled and laughed and laughed and smiled the whole time he played with them! He was totally engaged, it was so much just to watch!!
To start with I put the water beads out with a selection of scoops and containers and let them play and explore them!
This was great for language development and extending vocabulary.
Wet, slippery, slimy, cold, tickley, squishy, colourful, round, little balls oh balls ...
Do be warned, they are very bouncy and very roly and disappeared under all the furniture very quickly!! Of course Gmsn thought throwing them in the floor was hilarious and I had to put a stop to it once it got out of hand as I didn't want baby Finn finding a stray one. Perhaps play outside or put the tub into a bigger tub, or play in the bath tub.
So much language... I could go on!
Miss M came up with her own little game.
Which kept her mind off her pain for a long time!
We moved onto some colour sorting.
An Alphabet hunt.
Using some tongs
Try picking up the water beads with the tongs. What happens, why?
Of course you could add other resources to your water beads depending on your child's interests and level. Such as
*variety of objects for sorting and classifying.
Of course 6month old Finnboy was curious what all the fun was about, we couldn't let him miss out but of course I needed to make is safe for him! Here are some of the ways I came up with, but constant supervision and common sense is essential.
What a wonderful sensation. Remember to model lots of language for your baby such as wet, cold slippery, feet, toes, tickle etc.
Although two year old Hman enjoyed exploring them this way too!
These are the ways we have played so far, however we aren't tired of them yet. I will add more ideas to this post as we discover them!!
Always supervise children when playing with water beads.
Play and Learn