Recently I was introduced to water beads by my neighbor. And my, oh my, are these things fun! Also known as “water gems,” these marble-sized beads are usually a tool of a florist. They are soaked in water for several hours, where they grow from a tiny size to your average marble, and are used to fill vases. Paired with the age-appropriate child (i.e., they are past the “put everything in their mouth” phase), water beads prove to be a fun afternoon activity. I personally have only ever used water beads found at Joann’s Fabric (like theses here) but you can find them on Amazon as well. Here are some fun ways to use your water beads this summer.
1. Water Table
One of the easiest ways to play with water beads is to toss them into your kids outdoor water table. You can add water or not, but your water table probably comes with lots of cool nooks, crannies and toys for scooping. The table will also help contain the mess and any rogue water beads that end up in your planters will purely help to keep your plants hydrated through the hot summer months.
OverTheBigMoon.com has this activity and even more water bead activities for kids, so head on over!
2. Frozen Water Beads
If it’s a particularly hot day, toss those water beads in the freezer for some new sensory play ideas! Rub them between your fingers and hands, try and break them with a hammer or douse with warm water. While your water beads may not be usable after this activity, it sure is fun while it lasted!
Check out BusyToddler.com for more fun activities for your lively little ones.
3. Water Bead Sensory Bag
Got a kiddo who loves to make messes, but you’re tired of cleaning them up? This sensory bag is the perfect way to play with water beads, and not have to worry about finding them stuck between your toes when the kids are done with them (been there, done that). Just pour a bunch into a plastic baggie and then tape to a window! Perfect and mess-free play, thank you very much.
Some more detail on creating this sensory bag can be found at ParentingChaos.com, along with other great activities for young children.
4. Sensory Bottles
Sensory bottles can be used for children who need help paying attention, calming down or just for something fun to look at! It’s as simple as pouring water and water beads into an empty water bottle and closing the lid tightly (i.e. with lots of glue so it doesn’t open!). It’s a simple and relaxing activity that will mesmerize the kids.
Check out PlayLearnEveryday.com for details on creating your own sensory bottle, and for a fun water bead pickup game!
5. Sensory Play Bins
Your options are endless when it comes to creating a themed sensory bin using water beads. Get a pack of blue beads to create an ocean oasis, or green to symbolize grass with little creepy crawlies tossed in. The kiddos will love digging around and searching for treasure (hey, there’s another idea!), all while getting their little hands and fingers tickled by the unique feel of water beads.
Be sure to visit Fun-A-Day.com for this idea and other activities to keep your kids busy, every day!
6. Fine Motor Skills Activities
If you’ve ever touched a water bead, you know how slippery they can be. Your young ones can work on their fine motor skills by handling water beads, either using their hands and fingers, or other tools like scoops and kid tweezers. Set up peg boards or water bottles and instruct them to pick up water beads and move to the various locations. It will keep them busy for hours!
If you love this idea, then be sure to visit StillPlayingSchool.com, where you’ll find additional play based educational activities!
7. Glowing Water Beads
As if water beads weren’t cool enough already, the lovely people at GrowingAJeweledRose.com have come up with a “Glowing Rainbow Water” mix that you soak the water beads in, and then.they.glow. I mean, I can’t think of anything better. It’s made with non-toxic fluorescent paint so definitely kiddo safe (but still not made for eating!), and worth every penny to create these one of a kind water beads. Perfect for late summer nights!
You can grab the glowing water beads instructions over at GrowingAJeweledRose.com!
8. Color Sorting
If you have a child who loves organization and keeping things neat and tidy, they will love color sorting water beads. This is a perfect quiet time activity, and only involves water beads, some scoops and containers to place the various sorted colors. Easy peasy!
You can find this activity over at ArtfulParent.com, in addition to many more ideas for playing with water beads!