If you haven't tried these yet, you need to. Those of you who follow play based learning blogs or are on Pinterest have probably read about using water beads as sensory play by now. I don't know who had the original idea, but that mama is a genius! It seems to be the "it" thing to do now with children. When something is talked up too much I am a bit skeptical, mostly so my expectations aren't too high. The water beads were every bit as wonderful as described.
First thing this morning I emptied several packages into a bin. I showed JZ and JM, so they could see and feel how firm and tiny they were.
JM wasn't too interested at first, so he ran off to play with toys. JZ helped me add water. I wasn't sure how much, so we started with two cups.
JZ checked on our beads every fifteen or so minutes and was delighted at how much they changed each time. Almost immediately they softened up and became a bit squishy. After the first hour we had to add more water.
Approximately three hours after we first poured water over the beads they were close to the size of a marble, and I decided it was time to dive in and play.
The texture of the beads is unlike any other sensory exploration we have done together. They are squishy and spring back when released. They are jelly like but firm in their shape.
Plan ahead if you have dumpers. This activity can be messy if not contained. I had a towel on the floor nearby to quickly wipe spilled water. The water soaks up into the beads, but this is still a wet activity. At four years old JZ is careful with dumping, but JM doesn't quite have the motor skills to dump without spilling. When he wanted to dump from a large container to a small one, I had him put the small one in another large bin to contain the overflow of water beads. We still had a few beads stray here and there, but this helped to keep it under control.
Use caution with younger children. These should not ingested.
I have seen water beads available for purchase at Michael's, Walmart, and Dollar Tree. I bought mine HERE.