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July 31, 2014

Warm and Cold Sensory Play with Water Beads

Exploring Warm and Cold with Frozen Water Beads

Exploring warm and cold - sensory play with frozen water beads

Have you noticed a lot of fall ideas popping up on Pinterest lately?  I am just as guilty of pinning fall fun this early, but I'm not ready to start fall play activities yet!  August and September are the hottest months here, so we are still all about the ice and water play.  We made frozen water beads two years ago, and last year we froze water beads in water balloons for sensory and gross motor play.  When preparing another batch of water beads for the freezer a few weeks ago I had the idea to leave some of them at room temp while freezing the rest and combining the materials for some warm and cold sensory play.

How to free water beads for sensory play

How to Explore Warm and Cold with Water Beads

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Directions:  This sensory play lasted for several days.  One of my favorite things about water beads is that they are a sensory material that lasts for quite awhile when stored properly. 

Sensory play with water beads - how to hydrate water beads and ways to play

Day 1:  I hydrated a big bin of water beads.  To hydrate water beads put all the tiny beads in a large bin and cover them with water.  As they grow add more water if needed.  It can take several hours and even overnight for water beads to reach their full size.

playing with water beads

Days 2-7:  My boys played with the hydrated water beads for several days.  I usually give them a few containers for scooping and pouring the water beads to work on fine motor skills.

Sensory play to boost fine motor skills with water beads

Day 8:  I filled several containers with the hydrated water beads, added a some water, and stuck the containers in the freezer overnight.  I left more than half of the water beads in the sensory bin, and the boys continued to play with them.

Boosting fine motor skills through play with frozen water beads - a favorite sensory activity to beat the heat!

Day 9:  I pulled out the containers of frozen water beads and let the boys touch them and encouraged them to use words that described the texture.  Cold was, of course, the first word off of each of their tongues.  We also thought the words hard, stuck, firm, chilly, frozen, and solid were good words to describe the frozen water beads.

Comparing frozen and non frozen water beads:  exploring temperatures and textures and expanding vocabulary through sensory play.

I pulled out the frozen chunks of water beads once they had melted enough to slide out of the containers and added them to our sensory bin full room temperature water beads.

Warm and cold, soft and hard, firm and squishy - exploring opposites with sensory play

Once again I encouraged the boys to use words to describe the texture.  The non frozen water beads could be described as soft, squishy, warm, wet, breakable, gooey, slippery, and bouncy.  The boys loved holding a handful of frozen water beads in one hand and room temp water beads in the other and comparing.  Note - The room temp water beads weren't actually warm, but when compared to the frozen water beads they sure felt warm!  All four played with the water beads well after the frozen beads melted and turned into slimy goo.  

For more ways to play with water beads follow me on Pinterest.

Please use your best judgement to determine if your child is old enough to play with water beads.  They should not be ingested and could be a chocking hazard.  My boys are 7, 5, 3, and 3, and the three year olds no longer feel the need to taste test our sensory materials.  For younger children, here is a collection of baby and toddler safe sensory materials.

Summer fun sensory play with frozen water beads

More frozen summer fun:

Beat the heat with this awesome erupting ice chalk paint recipe!  Add water beads to water balloons for the coolest sensory experience ever!  Try freezing them for sensory and gross motor games on a hot day.  How to make frozen lemon Oobleck - a summer fun recipe for play


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