Water Beads Sensory Play

This week we are playing with water beads!! I don’t know who is more excited the kids or me! A friend (and Occupational Therapist) recommended these to me a while ago. When the girls preschool teacher gifted us with a set we couldn’t wait to try them out. Plumped up water beads are a great sensory experience for little hands (and big hands alike).

These amazing tiny pellets are used by the floral industry to add color and texture to floral arrangements and keep plants hydrated. Water beads are also non-toxic, Eco-friendly and just fun to play with!

Water bead tubes

I followed the directions on the tube and dumped the beads into 2 quarts of water and waited several hours for them to grow. The directions also say to leave in the water for about 12 hours, but we left them in for less. I started to panic and thought I did something wrong when the pink beads seemed to disappear and the orange beads looked fuzzy. I thought some how they started to dissolve. Turns out as the beads grow they become translucent. Once I dipped a mesh strainer into the water I could feel the tray was completely full of plump beads!

water beads fade

I divided the beads into two trays, one for each kid to play with. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to play either. The texture of these squishy little spheres is intriguing. It’s almost hypnotic to squeeze them between your fingers and bury your hands in these smooth jiggly bubbles. It didn’t take long for my kids to discover the beads  bounce like rubber balls. No matter how hard I tried to keep them contained there were some escapees.

water bead cups

The kids spent an hour (YES!! An entire hour) sorting and scooping the beads with a spoon, and filling up small cups. Since the beads are translucent light will pass right through them. After the girls filled a glass jar with the beads, we used a flashlight to shine light through them. Then we took turns holding them up to the window. The girls were impressed by how shiny the beads look. “It’s like jewels!”

water bead scoops

The beads keep their hydration for several days. You can leave them in a tray, or store in a jar or a Zip Lock bag to use again later. As they loose moisture they will shrink back to original size. You just have to rinse with cold water and they will swell again. You can reuse these several times.

water beads jar

You can find water beads at Michael’s Craft Store and seasonally at The Dollar Tree. You can also order online through Amazon.com for as little as $3.00 per packet. These little beads definitely give you a big bang for your buck! I can’t wait for you to try these!

Important Note: If you decide to try these out, be sure your child is passed the age of putting things in their mouth before you play with these. Even though these are non-toxic it is dangerous if your child swallows any.



The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.