Exploring Water Beads

Tags: sensory, exploratory play, science

Section: Sensory

Discover the wonderful texture of water beads for a new and exciting sensory experience!

I have seen these water beads on a few different blogs recently and decided it was time for us to give them a try! Water beads are used for decoration purposes in vases and floral decoration. Although they are not designed to be used as a toy, water beads are fantastic for sensory play. They are non toxic and with supervision are perfect for some early scientific learning whilst investigating a new material.

EDITED TO INCLUDE: I bought these water beads from Amazon who do loads of different colours and variations of these beads starting at around 95p per packet!

Before they are hydrated the beads are really tiny (the size of seeds). In order to absorb the water and grow in size, the beads have to sit in water for around 6 hours. Ava loved checking on the beads over the course of the day and was very excited as she realised the beads were gradually growing in size. Once the beads were fully grown the girls began some hands-on investigation. Ava used lots of words to describe the texture of the beads including "slimy" and "smooth", and a small world cat soon found it's way into the water beads as a new home! Olivia discovered that when the water beads came out of the bowl they bounced across the kitchen floor and before long was happily throwing them out!

What we used:

  • Water beads
  • Water
  • Bowl


After the initial play we tried:

  • Fishing for beads in the water
  • Playing with the beads in soapflakes

Other ideas with water beads we are going to try:

  • Exploring water beads with light
  • Shaving foam and water beads
  • Making a small world scene with water beads

This activity is great for experimenting with different textures and using language to describe how the beads feel. Observing what happens as the beads absorb the water gives opportunities for discussing early scientific concepts.

Handling the beads develops fine manipulative skills and whilst scooping up the beads children are developing their hand eye coordination. Children may use mathematical language as they talk about the size of the beads and fill and empty pots of beads.

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