Recently I have been seeing a lot about water beads and they just looked so cool I couldn't resist giving them a try. A few weeks ago I found them on sale and have been saving them for a rainy day, literally. Today it was cold and rainy, the perfect day to break out the water beads. I set up a few plastic tubs on our table and dumped the beads out into them. If you have never seen them, water beads are little gelatinous balls, actually polymers that suck up water and come in a variety of colors. They are sold in craft stores for using in vases or other plantings. However they have become a big hit with children, and it only took a few moments for me to figure out why. These non-toxic beads are safe to handle, although not to ingest so you have to be very careful that no one puts them in their mouth. Both the Bee and The Bean were immediately in love. I put a few plastic cups of varying sizes, some plastic spoons and a few little creature in the tubs as well. The girls happily spent a long time just playing, scooping beads into cups, trying to pick them up with the spoon, squishing them in their hands. I have to admit that I was as enthralled as the girls, the beads feel so neat and have such a strange property that you can't help but touch them. While the girls loved the beads there were two main draw backs to this activity, one, that I had to watch the Bean very carefully because she still sometimes puts things in her mouth, she was good after a few reminders, but this is definitely an activity better suited for the 3 and up crowd. The other drawback was that despite their best efforts some of the beads bounce out of the plastic tubs and fall to the floor. I spent a fair amount of time picking up water beads from the floor. In the future I might consider laying a plastic tablecloth out on the floor and putting the plastic bins right on the floor so the beads don't have as far to fall and roll. One of the best parts about the beads is that we can use them again. When we were done playing I put them back into the plastic containers they came in and they will be ready for us to play with again next time and if they start to dry out we just add more water to rehydrate them. Here are a few of the water bead resources I found:
Play At Home Mom- Has some great ideas for playing with water beads including putting them on a light table!
Water Beads- Some info about what water beads are and how they work
Messy Kids- Did a fun Creepy Crawly themed water beads
Child Central Station- Some more info and fun ideas for playing with water beads
The Chocolate Muffin Tree- Water bead fun