Saturday, March 10, 2012

Water Beads

This is our favorite activity to do! We have our sensory bucket out almost all day long with water beads sitting in them.

Never heard of water beads? They are basically little polymer balls that hold water and release them slowly over time. They are usually used in flower vases. Some beads bleed the color into the water and others do not. You can buy these already at a full size or you can buy the smaller, dried version that you have to soak in water for 4-6 hours.

You can play with these without any water in the bucket, but it is also fun to add a lot of water too! The water beads look like they 'dissolve' but if you stick your hand in, you can still feel them! It is super fun and also great for sensory play. We also like putting in larger glass stones (they can be found in the flower section of craft stores) and giving the child a cup to collect them in. Try to pick a different color than the beads so it is easier to see. Always supervise the child if you do this - they can be a choking hazard! This activity is great for fine motor skills and color sorting!

We buy our beads at Michaels but you can probably find these at any other craft store. They run around $4.99 for a large container of already full sized beads that do not leak color. Our last trip, we picked up red beads and they DID bleed the color into the water, but all of the other colors have been okay. We usually use two containers in her sensory bucket.

In order to keep these fresh, you have to put a little bit of water back into the container when you package them up. We had a problem in the beginning where after a few weeks, the water would start to smell. We threw out three containers of beads over the course of 4 months because there was no way to get the smell out. We did come up with a solution!! We found if we put a small drop of Tea Tree Oil into the container, it would kill the bacteria from leaving water in the container (and also whatever bacteria makes its way in from your toddler's hands) and it would give them a nice smell! Do not put more than a small drop into the water though. This stuff is powerful and too much is not a good thing.

Does anyone else use water beads? How do YOU play with them?


  1. Yes, we just tried them out today for the first time, my kids had fun feeling them and putting in their toys, like Polly pocket dolls and star wars figures :) thanks for the tips.

    1. So glad your kiddos had fun! Thank you for sharing :)

  2. We have been having fun with crystal water beads, and I would have never thought to bring them outside. Good to know they are safe for the garden. I hope you come by and share this tomorrow at The Outdoor Play Party.