Water beads are ‘water retaining polymers’ that swell up into soft squidgy balls used for flower arranging, but I have read a lot about them being used for play, below are just a few ideas from some of my favourite bloggers:
Sarah from Pyjama School
Cerys from Rainy Day Mum
AK from Play At Home Mom
I have never actually seen them in action until one day at school I spotted some in the water tray in Nursery and it’s true – you actually can’t leave them alone! So thank you to the lovely Rachel for letting me know where to find them (good old ebay- 99p per pack!) and here is our water bead play!
Who knew that those tiny little balls the postman delivered would be so much fun?! They come in a little 5 gram packet – in fact, they look a lot like the little sachets of instant yeast for bread making only in much more interesting colours!
We tipped one pack into a bowl, and added water. Annabelle had a good feel, telling me they were tiny and hard. She looked a bit dubious when I promised that they would soon swell up and be softer but she kept checking on them every few minutes nonetheless! We popped round the corner to the post office and by the time we got back about 30 minutes later the beads already looked like this:
By the afternoon our water beads were ready to play with so I gathered up various containers and cups and let Annabelle experiment.
As first, Annabelle enjoyed simply squeezing and swishing her hand through the soft beads making them spin “Like a roundabout”.
She loved scooping, pouring and transferring with the scoops and cups – all great hand-eye co-ordination practice!
I can understand why water beads are used for floral displays – they do look so pretty, but I think that the children have found a much better use for them! I can see lots of possibilities for future play such as fine motor and discovery play with tubes and containers, or small world and sensory play with sea creatures, insects or dinosaurs.