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Water beads: All the different ways to play with water beads.

With summer around the corner water beads are a fun and engaging resource to have especially for outside fun. You can do so much more with them than you think. Add them in water, freeze them, add them to different sensory materials the list goes on so in this blog I will share all the ways we love to play with ours. My boys at the moment love playing with them in shaving foam and my 3 year old love putting them in the palm of his hand and trying to squeeze them through his fingers till the pop out.

Water beads on their own:

Pour the water beads into a deep container or water tray and let them explore them with their hands. I remember the first time I introduced the boys to water beads. No joke I was finding them for a week afterwards because I didn't realise that they are very jumpy little things!

Water and water beads:

Water beads in water is a lovely sensory experience on its own. Add some pots, cups, sieves, scoops what ever you have in the kitchen cupboards and add them in. Lots of fun will be had pouring and scooping them up and its a great way to introduce water beads to your little ones to explore.

Bath time and water beads:

This is a lovely sensory experience in the bath as they play with them. We watched the beads move through the water, catching them and letting them go, swirling them around and watching them sink when we dropped them from a height into the water. You can talk about the colours you see and how some colours are different when they are in the water. You can add in other toys like boats or utensils for pouring and scooping. My boys love using the coloured boats and trying to find the same coloured water beads to fill the boats up with them. Its a lovely way for children to explore water beads using different body parts, they get to use their visual scanning skills, learn about colours and can give bath time a new exciting and fun element to it.

Learning with water beads:

I love to find new ways to use our water beads and what better way to make learning fun than with them! There is lots of easy ways to make them into a fun and educational game. One of our favourites is learning about capacity. Capacity is an important mathematical concept for children to learn. All you need is lots of different types of empty recycling bottles, containers and some colour tape. Mark off full/half full etc on each container and asking them to fill to the mark. By doing this they are getting a visual representation of what capacity means. This is great for their hand eye coordination, fine motor skills, social skills and language skills are being developed as they pour/scoop the water beads into the containers. Simple set up packed with lots of learning and fun.

Roll the dice:

We love all sorts of roll the dice games in this house since the first lockdown. This one was great for practicing our counting skills. Each player has a little container (empty sprinkle jars) we used water beads, a small spoon and a bigger one (these are measuring spoons), make sure small spoon only allows for one water bead to go on to it, a bowl and a dice. Roll the dice, what number it falls on, count into your container the correct amount. Take turns rolling the dice and putting the correct amount of water beads in. Who ever reaches the mark on the container first, wins! Great for counting skills, turn taking, concentration, hand eye coordination, visual perception skills, language, maths skills (if need to take any away etc) and social skills.

Hide and seek:

You can hide letters (or numbers, animals really anything) and they have to rescue them from the water beads and find their match weather its on a piece of paper, a picture card or a white board. Great for recognition and its a fun way to learn.

Using water beads in rescue games: Marble rescue: Combining colour sorting (find the green and blue marbles in the water beads) and pouring and scooping. I also used every blue and green containers and scoops I could find too to keep to the blue & green theme. You dont need it to be themed to still have lots of learning value in it.

I put marbles in among the water beads and challenged for them to find them. They loved this activity and after they rescued all the marbles, they sorted them into the two coloured bowls. They spent about an hour pouring, spooning & scooping the water beads. I was pleasantly surprised at how much they enjoyed this. Great for colour recognition, hand eye coordination, bilateral coordination, using fine motor skills, scanning skills, visual perception skills, language development (using words like pour, scoop etc), problem solving skills and using their imagination and creativity as they play. Giant water beads:

We pop them into our old fish tank and leave them on our window ledge so that the boys can watch them grow. To get them to grow big you need to let them sit in the water for at least 24 to 48 hours. They are great to explore. You can have conversations around how they were small yesterday and how they became bigger. My boys love mushing and squashing these up in their hands. The only thing is the giant water beads really only have a lifespan of one activity as they do crumble after a while of being handled. However don't through out your squashed up water beads, stick them in a container with a few small toys and pop them in the freezer for an ice rescue another day.

Waterbeads and a trampoline equals so much fun!

Have you still got lots of water beads left and not sure what next to do with them? Don't throw them out, simply pour them on your trampoline, add the kids and have fun!

Great sensory experience, the sound the water beads make when they bounce of the trampoline is super cool, great physical exercise and just good fun. I have to admit I always have to have a go when we do this one. The water beads will eventually get all mushed up from jumping on them. Do make sure you clean it up after the kids are finished having fun as I made that mistake before and it ended up being a bigger clean up job! I use the dust pan as the scoop and your hand to brush them up. When all scooped up, give the trampoline a rinse with the hose, all in all a ten minute clean up job!

To see our fun reel on this click the link below:

Squirting water beads from a medicine Syringe:

This is a fun and easy activity and the boys absolutely love this. Its great for their hand eye co-ordination as they pop them into the syringes and great for strengthening all those fine motor muscles as they push the water beads out of the syringe.

To watch the reel chick the link:

Using water beads in play set ups:

By adding water beads to play set ups it is giving the set up another sensory element to it.

Coral Reef set up:

For this set up I used the water beads and some shaving foam mixed with paint for the ocean base. Some stones and shells we collected at the beach for the Coral Reef. Some pipe cleaners and our toobs coral reef sea creatures.

To see the reel click the link below:

Bug egg slime:

This was my 6 year old's set up with the left over slime water beads. We had been doing some gardening and when we were digging up the plant pots we found some little white translucent balls which we googled to find out they were probably either slug or snail eggs. So this is where his inspiration for this set up with the water beads came from! The water beads where the slug/snails eggs and the slime was what they leave behind when they move!

Frog Spawn:

I made a frog spawn activity with water beads (yes I picked out all the green, white and yellow ones) along with some shaving foam and blue poster paint and our outdoor book that had 2 pages all about the life cycle of a frog. Nice activity to talk about the life cycle of the frog, the book was a nice addition as we read the pages from the book. By setting up activities like this children are learning about the world around them, life cycle of a frog, sensory development, mark making, imagination, creativity, logical thinking, social skills, language and so much more.

Water bead run:

We use the bottles we were collecting for recycling to make the water bead run. Together we designed and constructed it, using the bottles and tape. We used small and big water beads and a few scoops to pick them up to go down the run. This was actually my 6 year olds idea and was all child led, great use of his construction skills, critical thinking skills, rolling with an idea, imagination and creativity and so much more!

To see the reel chick the link below:

Freezing water beads:

There are lots of ways you can freeze water beads, in a block, in ice cubes or if you want them to come out individually check out my how to reel below. We love freezing the mushed up water beads and putting some toys in to it to make an ice rescue with them.

Click the link to see the reel on how to freeze them so they come out individually.

Dimond ice rescue:

I hid lots of little crystals in the tub before freezing. I always have something freezing in the freezer so that I can pull an activity out last minute especially in the good weather. My boys love all sorts of ice rescue and I like to use not only water beads but left over gloop, slime, jelly and shaving foam for it too. All you do is grab a few small toys, buttons, lego, whatever your child is into and pop it in an ice tray or tuba wear box, fill with water beads or another liquid base and pop it in the freezer.

Warning: Water beads are non - toxic however they are NOT EDIBLE. Please do be mindful that water beads are very small even when grown and can be a choking hazard for children under the age of 3. Supervision is needed while playing with water beads. Please always keep water beads out of reach and please be aware they are very dangerous if ingested.

Our two favourite Irish on line shops to buy water beads from are Sensory Learning Supplies and Discovery Playtime. Sensory Learning Supplies sell the small water beads in a multi coloured tub and clear water beads. Discovery Playtime sell small and large water beads in packs and a set of water beads that have mini, small, large and glow in the dark water beads.

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