Have you tried them yet?! But I bet you've seen them all over social media and wanted to try!
They really are fab and trust me, you can't go wrong with water beads!
Firstly before we do start, let me be clear, these are NOT suitable for children who still taste their play.
Towards the end of this blog post, there is a taste safe recipe to make alternative water beads to use with your younger children!
Originally created and used by florists, these are now a popular resource for many early years providers to use with young children. They are a fabulous resource for sensory play or adding to a water tray.
When ordering water beads online, I get mine here (click this affiliate link). They arrive absolutely tiny, however they will expand in water over time. Now as you already know I'm not one for sticking to instructions ;) so I simply pour in the amount required. Now this is like cooking pasta, we all think we can judge it by eye but how many times have you accidentally cooked a ridiculous amount!! I do this everytime with water beads too and ALWAYS make too many!! So, make less than you think you need! Pour them into a large bowl and then fill until the water beads and submerged in water. Over the next few hours the water beads will soak up the water and expand in size. Continue to check in on them, stirring and topping up with more and more water. It usually takes up to 8 hours when the water beads have grown to approx 1cm diameter in size.
And now you're ready to PLAY!!
But what do you do with them?!
Well first of all when introducing something new to your child, you need to be clear about how they play with it, i.e. remind them not to eat or taste them and to keep away from pets too.
I like to transfer my water beads from a bowl to a super large pan or box and then place inside a tuff spot tray with a plastic tablecloth too. Please bear in mind, these things bounce for miles so always worth playing with in the kitchen on a hard floor to make it easier to sweep up and make sure any pets and younger siblings are kept out of the room.
Then let them touch, feel, sink their hands into it, roll them, squeeze them, squash them, rub them, everything! Let them use their bare hands to find out about the water beads, they will find them so exciting!
Then once you're ready and looking for a few new ways to play with them, why not try...
1. Playing pots, pans, spoons, bowls etc for some pretend cooking!
2. Using with shaving foam, its a really unusual sensation and very messy (but worth it!) type of fun!
3. Pour down a marble run and watch them roll!
4. Fill a balloon with water beads, it makes an unusual feeling stress squeezer!
5. Use a toy hammer to squash them!
6. Group just blue water beads and use with plastic animals for some underwater themed play.
7. Pour into a clear zip lock bag and tape to a window so that the sunlight shines through and little hands can push and watch them move.
8. Fill a clear plastic bottle to use as a sensory bottle
9. Pair with colour bowls or dishes for colour sorting with pincers or scoops.
10. And last but not least, my favourite.....FREEZE THEM! Place in the freezer for approx 30- 60 mins and then let little ones play!
Finally, if you are looking for a taste safe way to alternative to try with younger children, this can be done using LARGE TAPIOCA PEARLS (these are usually used to make bubble tea) mixed with food colouring and water. Simply book the tapioca pearls in boiled water for 10-15 minutes until the shell becomes clear and soft. Rinse the pearls in cold water then divide the pearls and add food colouring. Let the pearls sit for 30 minutes to ensure the colour has been soaked up and just to be safe, rinse thoroughly with water. Then you're ready to play!!!