I've been seeing water beads on toddler blogs for awhile now. What's the fuss all about? It's just tiny beads, right? Wrong! These little gems are amazing!
OK, first a little Water Bead 101.
- You can find water beads online, at your local craft store or Wal-Mart in the floral craft section. The price varies with the quantity of beads. The average price I've found is about $3 for 1.5 oz.
- It takes about six hours for the beads to fully swell. If you plan on growing the beads the day before introducing them to your child(ten), the beads will be nice and fat for your sensory fun.
- We used three 1/2 oz packages of beads (pink, blue and purple), which grew to fill our 14 qt Rubbermaid container about 1/3 of the way full.
- You can store the beads in ziplock bags to use another day (if it's going to be longer than a week, they may need to be rehydrated).
- Once the beads have swollen they will break apart if you apply pressure (squeezing them in between fingers, standing or dancing on them). They then turn into a gelatinous mess.
- They are very therapeutic. I found myself drifting away while running my hands over the soft, wet beads.
- The beads glisten in the sunlight. You can fill a glass jar and set it in the sunlight to see a beautiful rainbow of color.
- They bounce, like little rubber balls.
- Most importantly they will bring about instant giggles!
We began exploring the water beads with just our hands. The immediate reaction was pure joy. The smiles, giggles and excitement were precious. The squeals of absolute delight were so... well, perfect. In fact, they were laughing so hard that they gave themselves the hiccups!
We added some scoopers for transferring fun. Of course we couldn't resist putting our tootsies in the colorful bin.
Then my son, yes- my 27 month-old son, had the brilliant idea of adding ice cubes to the sensory bin! Which is perfect for two reasons. It's 87 degrees at 10AM (yes, 87 degrees and it's not even noon yet) and the ice adds another dimension to the sensory bin.
As soon as Little Miss saw the ice, she started repeating, "no ice" over and over. Hmmm, what to do, what to do. I handed each of them a pair of tongs that we bought from the Dollar Tree (we love that place) and she set right to work using the tongs to remove each ice cube, one by one. When she finished, Wild One came over and dumped the ice right back into the bin. I stood back waiting for the eruption, but instead Little Miss just started taking them out again. She then asked Wild One to "please help" and he did. I love these little ones
After the ice melted, we added our foam letters to the sensory bin. My plan, ha!, was to have the kidabunks remove each letter one by one and say the letter name and sound, while using a pair of tongs. Their plan was to remove all the letters with their hands, as fast as possible and put them back in the letter bucket.
Later on, we decided to add some shaving cream to our water bead fun. We just started playing with shaving cream a few weeks ago and it quickly became part of one of their favorite sensory bins. They had more fun playing with the shaving cream than the water beads. It was wonderfully squishy and foamy.