We had never played with water beads until this summer – I was always a bit worried that the girls might eat them and I was never sure what to do with them. But at 6 and 4 I thought we should give it a go and honestly – why did we wait – we should have done it a year ago! (catching up on my blogging – the girls have just turned 7 and 5 – I don’t know why but that sounds really grown up…cue slightly weepy moment!).
Water beads are very easy and cheap to get hold of – we got them here on amazon. Then simply add water and enjoy (ours took around 4hrs to grow to their full size – a bit bigger than a pea).
But what can you do with them?
A science experiment
We ran it as a science experiment. The girls were very excited to record the steps of a proper experiment and note the results at each stage – from knobbles to their full size. Showing the children how to run and write down an experiment is quite cool. I am not a scientist but I can point them in the direction of the basics. I suspect my science credibility may be called into question at about 14! Kitty recorded her results in pictures and Grace wrote hers in joined up writing – very stylishly I thought! Perhaps you could run a science day and conduct the milk fireworks experiment too.
Learning through play
The science aside they are actually just fun to play with. But when I thought about it later I discovered that we had done a massive amount of learning through play. We ran back every hour to see and measure how much they had grown (they are start off quite knobbly, which you can just see in the picture below, then they go all soft and wonderfully touchable). We sorted them into colours and compared sizes. We guessed how many there were and counted them. We bounced them outside and estimated how high they went (they go a long way – tricky to do with a tape measure too – but we had fun trying!). Finally we got into tubs with them as they feel very nice to sit on! They are just a lovely sensory material and I wouldn’t worry to much about the what they are for and just enjoy them. The children will know what to do!
You will get such a lot out of them by just playing with them – learning through play is key here. Everything we enjoyed on that sunny afternoon was entirely led by the girls and they loved doing it all.
I have just seen a great article on The Artful Parent which shares some more uses for water beads – I wish I had seen that in the summer! I particularly love the lightbox, shaving cream and water bead cake! We will definitely be trying that on our homemade light box very soon.
Enid Blyton Rating: 10 out of 10 (Cheap and surprisingly engaging fun…we are still finding water beads in the garden though…they really do bounce a long way!)