For ages I’ve been searching for water beads. I know I could probably get them on the Internet but I never got round to it. On Saturday night I went to the German Christmas market in Birmingham City Centre. In the middle of the market I found a little stall that sold fake snow (which of course I bought!) and water beads in all sorts of colours. They were £2 a pack or three for £5, so I bought three packs – a blue one (for our ocean theme after Christmas!) red and green.
Water beads are gorgeous. They’re usually used in flower arranging as a way of making the displays look amazing. They come in packets and are tiny little beads that don’t look much at all.
You put them in a container and add water (follow instructions on pack) and leave for five to six hours. We left ours overnight. They absorb incredible amounts of water and once fully hydrated they turn into beautiful plump, translucent coloured beads. They’re lovely to look at but the texture is something else! They’re squishy but firm, cool, slippery and slimy (in a lovely way!) – absolutely perfect for sensory play. I guarantee every adult that sees them will want to touch and feel them. We have ours in a tub in the kitchen and every time I walk past I find my hands in there!
We mixed the red and green ones together to make it festive. As soon as I put the tub down the kids were straight in there. They loved it!
Harrison then decided he wanted to take his socks off and put his feet in. He persuaded me to put my foot in and it was a lovely sensation!
He then pulled out an egg box from our ‘junk cupboard’ and started to arrange the beads in it. This was a great numeracy opportunity – counting the beads – and sorting and discussing colours.
We had a good hour of fun with these. They did roll around the floor a bit and some did get squashed (just vacuumed them up). The beads can be used over and over again. According to the packet, we should be able to rehydrate them up to 120 times. Not bad for a couple of quid! Once they start looking a little dehydrated you simply put them back in water and they plump back up.
What I will say is keep a close eye on kids/pets whilst they’re playing with them (as you should with all sensory play) as although they are non-toxic and environmentally safe, they’re not designed for children, and certainly not meant to be ingested, so please please please supervise carefully. If they’re likely to try and eat them put them in a zip lock bag and they can still have fun squishing them, or put them in a sensory bottle.
If you had a mirror or a light table this would make a lovely surface to play on as the effects would be magical and add another dimension to sensory play.