Do you know what water beads are and have you used them in your classroom? If you answered yes to this question then good for you and I’m sure you have lots of fun stories to tell about how the children used them in your room. If you don’t know what water beads are google them or go to the Dollar Tree and get some ASAP. Now buyer beware: BE CAREFUL, water beads can be a choking hazard and should never be eaten. I recommend that they only be used in classrooms of older children say 3-5 years old that are closely supervised and given clear instructions about the do’s and don’ts of playing with water beads before using them. Now on to the fun part!!
Water beads are actually meant for use in flower arrangements to add color, water, shine, and texture to the water in a jar. Water beads can come in different forms. At the Dollar Tree, they come in a bottle and they only come in clear. The clear water beads are a favorite because when you add them to water, they disappear into the water and can only be found by touch.
If you order water beads online, they will come to you in little packets that almost look like seed packets. You have to let the “dehydrated” water beads sit in water for up to 12 hours so they will reach their full growth potential. When water beads sit out of the water for several days, they will shrink back up into small seed-like shapes and then place them back in the water to expand into marble shapes once again. How awesome is that!! This can lead to all sorts of reasoning, predicting, hypothesizing and problem solving conversations.
Water beads feel like soft, squishy, smooth marbles. If one drops to the floor, it will have a little bounce and it will definitely roll. If you add water beads to a water table, they are relaxing and gentle and wonderful to touch. They are not slimy and they do not dissolve…they are very calming for some children.
You can also explore water beads on a light box. A homemade light box works best sometimes because if it has a plastic lid for the top it won’t matter if it gets a little wet. The light shines beautifully through the water beads and the children will enjoy the combination of how the water beads feel and look on the light box.
You can also add water beads to shaving cream for sensory play. The added feel of water beads creates a marvelous sensory experience…
You can freeze the water beads and conduct a winter experiment. You can predict how long it will take for them to freeze. We set some of them outside in a bowl and some in the freezer and predicted which ones would freeze first and after the results we discussed what the reasons might be for the results.
Water beads promote learning and development in all content areas of the classroom. From fine motor exploration to science, color, sensory, and creative art – the ideas of how water beads can be used is endless. Just please remember to supervise closely and give children directions. They will have a blast exploring these tiny water filled beads!