Water beads are such a good sensory activity to do with the kids. Our whole family loves playing with them. Except Hubby. He hates them because, no matter how careful you are, you’ll find them all around the house for at least a week after playing with them! There are various sizes available (also called Orbeez) and you can get them from lots of retailers. They’re not edible so please supervise young children when doing any activities with water beads.
We put the beads into two different bowls and then mixed the “ingredients” together to make our cake. We used other props such as play butter and flour to add to our recipe. After lots of mixing we spooned the cake batter into bowls and put them in the play oven. Once they were cooked we had to try them (obviously Smallest Child knows that water beads are not actually edible and we just had to pretend).
When we were mixing the cakes we talked about what we were doing. We also turned it into a STEM activity by talking about which bowl had the most etc.
Another way of doing this activity is to get your child to practice their cutlery skills and hand-eye co-ordination by spooning the beads from one container to another. The water beads make this a more tricky activity because they roll around! You can step this up a level by using a jar and then a bottle with a narrower neck instead of a bowl to aim for.
Water beads and Gelli baff play
I love messy play and adding water beads and gelli baff together definitely makes for some very messy play! The two add a new texture to sensory play as well. Smallest Child LOVES playing with this stuff. She happily plays with it for hours, and day after day. Don’t forget the beads may absorb some of the water from the gelli baff (even if they’re been pre-soaked) so you may need to keep adding a bit of water to until you get the right consistency.
There are so many ways to play with it. We’ll often get the plastic animals out to play in the swap. We use various jugs, trays and funnels to measure and pour the gelli, watching how it works differently when the water beads are added. There are also STEM activities that you can do with water beads. Smallest Child also loves just getting into the tub and playing with it! For more Gelli Baff play ideas and sensory bin suggestions click here.
Water beads stress ball
Put a small amount of dry water beads (approx 1tbsp) into a balloon. Add some water, tie a knot and leave over night. You don’t want to over fill the balloon with too many beads or too much water though. I’d suggest just filling the balloon until the water starts to make it expand a bit. Please make sure you supervise the children whilst they are playing with these stress balls. They’re good fun, but they can break easily. For that reason you definitely shouldn’t use water balloons for this water beads activity – it’s just too fragile.
Painting with water beads
It’s a bit like marble painting, but with water beads. Put some blobs of slightly watered down paint in the corners of a tray. Put some water beads on the blobs of paint and roll them around! The paint can make the balls a bit sticky, so they might need a bit of a flick to get them rolling!!
Pincer grip and colour recognition
We have a couple of old cake topping jars that we use for various play activities. With this task I got Smallest Child to pick out all of the white water beads and put them into the jar. We then did the same with the colours that were more tricky to distinguish between then they’re all in a box together!
There are lots of different activities for toddlers to play with water beads. In general they’re just a really good sensory play activity. If you’re looking for toddler activities (not just using water beads) have a look at the under 5’s section of the website.
I’m Vicky and I am a mum of three living in Aylesbury. I set up Free Time with the Kids to review free and cheap family days out in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Oxfordshire, mainly because I kept forgetting all the fabulous places that were recommended to me!! I love getting out and about with the kids (and hubby of course) and we have adventures all over the place. My reviews tell you all the things you need to know about the family days out and activites we’ve done such as how much it costs, if there’s parking, toilets and if there’s a cafe or if picnics are allowed. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook