Playing with Water Beads

Children LOVE water beads. If you haven’t tried them yet I promise you that when you do the children will be so excited to play with them! They have such a unique feel, they feel wet and rubbery yet will squish easily (as long as they don’t slip out of your hands while trying to do so!) In fact, once children work out that they can squish them they will likely try to squish them all!

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I find that the easiest and best way to present water beads is to put them in a tub and add a few tools to aid the exploration. Scoops and spoons work well as do colanders and small bowls. This simple presentation allows each child to explore them in their own way. Some may simply want to feel them with their hands, it’s actually quite soothing to do so! Other children may like to sort the water beads by colour which would work on their fine motor skills and others will be more drawn to using the tools you provide.

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For another fun water bead play idea you can read about how we used them with shaving cream and water for a very messy experience!

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It is a wonderful activity to do outside, especially if you are concerned about mess. They also look beautiful in the sunlight as a couple of children pointed out to me who stuck their heads under the tub.

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Early Years Learning Framework

Outcome 4 - Children are confident and involved learners

4.1 - Children develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, commitment, enthusiasm, persistence, imagination and reflexivity.

This Activity is for:

  • Children who are past the mouthing stage, water beads are not OK to eat and must not be put in the mouth. You need to know your children to use your best judgement and supervision is critical.

Encourage children to:

  • Explore through touch and describe what they feel

  • Experiment to see what they can do with water beads (squish them, bounce them, how many can they hold?)

  • Use tweezers and scoops to pick them up.

Extend on this by:

  • Freezing the water beads

  • Putting the water beads in a tub of water and use colanders

  • Add another sensory element like shaving cream

Simplify this by:

  • Taking away the tools and containers and simply feeling the water beads with hands

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