How beautiful are these little gems?! Water beads are actually designed to be used in flower arrangements and although not designed to be used as a toy are 100% non-toxic and brilliant fun! They are widely available in stores and online (I purchased these from Amazon) when you buy them they are tiny little crystals which you then soak in water to hydrate. I'm really lucky and my son isn't a big "taster" when it comes to sensory play but please make sure that when playing with these you supervise your child at all times. Now this post will be based around our second session with water beads as our first encounter was much less enjoyable and mighty stressful! I had not read enough about them to know just how bouncy these little balls of water are and within 2 minutes of starting the play I decided it would be a great idea to pour them from one container to another which resulted in them bouncing all over my living room carpet! Dylan thought this was amazing especially when he discovered they "exploded" when stood on and we couldn't pick them up as fast as he could smash them! Also in the scramble to pick them up the bowl was then knocked over another 2 or 3 times and the slippery little blighters ended up under the sofa, in the kitchen, behind the TV basically everywhere!!!
This time we decided to opt for the safety of the water table and thankfully all the beads stayed in the table for the entire session. I was really pleased as after the disaster the first time around I was worried I would have to abandon water bead play until Dylan was older and that ment I couldn't play with them either and they really are amazing. They feel like really soft marbles and running your hand through them or even over the top of them is some how soothing and extremely hard to resist when "supervising" hehe. What I really loved about using them in the water table was being able to have one section with the hydrated beads and one section with water and beads as they look completely different when submersed, like bacteria on a slide or frogspawn even!
I felt this was a great sensory experience for Dylan as he could see how the beads appearance changed when he dropped them in the water or subsequently fished them out. Another aspect which I had not considered until we put the beads in the table was how the colour of the beads would change depending on there background, for example the beads seen here are in fact blue but when placed on the yellow table they appear green. All these factors made for a lot of discussion during this session and Dylan, although still unable to properly talk never shut up!
We then introduced a funnel to the session and let Dylan practise his fine motor skills by placing it upside down and showing him how to pop the beads inside. This for some reason was highly addictive and I found myself sitting filling the funnel long after Dylan had moved on to splashing in the other side! We also used the funnel to scoop them up and let them pour out, this was great fun to try and catch them as they flew out the bottom but unfortunately due to the uneven size it got blocked quite often. The great thing about these is they can be kept for future play and just rehydrated as and when needed, that is if they don't all end up smooshed and in a million pieces of course!
We kept ours and used them to set up this table in the garden this morning, water beads and shaving foam. I wasn't brave enough to attempt this one in the house and it turns out with good reason as it resulted in Dylan and daddy having a shaving foam fight and all of us ending up soaked but smelling lovely! This really did feel amazing but didn't really keep Dylans attention for nearly as long as just plain beads and water, I don't know wether this was due to the distraction of being outside or that despite feeling great it just didn't hold as many possibilities as the previous session, who knows!
As you can see it was definitely a messy activity and one I would save for the garden if possible but it genuinely got more fun as we got messier and we will be doing this again as long as the weather stays nice!