• I-yatah K. Holness

Science Fun with Water Beads


Why Waterbeads?


Water Bead play is a great way for children to explore sensory play and science while having fun! Children love that squishy feeling! They are easy to make, and you can play with them for hours!

Water beads are one of the coolest little phenomenons to explore. When you first get them, they are just tiny balls of plastic. After sitting in water for a while, they grow and get about the size of a marble. If you take them out of the water and let them dry out, they shrink back to their original size. Water beads are a great way to observe water hydration and dehydration. They also offer children quite a unique sensory experience as they squeeze, squish and watch them move and bounce.

I recommend using loose waterbeads with children aged 4 and up who will not put them in their mouth. Water beads are non-toxic, but a child might choke if they try to swallow one. If you have a younger child (or even an older child who still puts things in their mouth) you can still use them, but you may want to seal them in a Ziploc bag (see activity #2).

Check out these fun ways to explore waterbeads:


1.Waterbead Bin

This is super simple to set up and you can use whatever you have in your kitchen or your child’s toybox.

Pour the waterbeads into a large bin with a little bit of water. Add some objects to play with. Some suggestions: measuring cups, spoons, buckets, bowls, smaller containers, shovels, scoops, dump trucks, tongs, balance scale, etc. Have fun scooping, pouring, measuring, weighing, and squishing!


2.Waterbead Sensory Bag

For toddlers, you can make a waterbead sensory bag, like these rainbow bags at Meri Cherry.

Simply fill a large Ziploc bag with waterbeads and some water (or baby oil or gel for more squishy fun) and seal them with duct tape.


3. Incredible Waterbead Slime

Another really fun way to play with waterbeads is to make Incredible Water Bead Slime like this slime at Parenting Chaos

With this slime, the children can explore squishing, pulling, stretching and whatever else they can come up with as they play.

Some questions you can ask the children while using waterbeads:

What happened to the beads when we left them in the water? Why?

What happened to the glue when we added the liquid starch?

What do you notice that is different about the beads after they have absorbed the water? (feel, look, bounce, etc.)

What do the beads look like after we let them dry out for a few days? Why?

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