Aliza and I LOVE water beads!!
What are water beads?
Water beads are small beads of gel, generally composed of sodium polyacrylate. WHAT? I don’t know either, but they are so much FUN! They come dehydrated in a tiny bag and when exposed to water they become the size of marbles! They are usually used as decorations or seen in flower arrangements. In this case, we used our water beads for SENSORY PLAY!
Are water beads safe?
Yes! Water beads are non-toxic, eco-friendly and biodegradable. Even though they are not toxic, because of their size they can be a chocking hazard to small kids and kids who mouth objects. So, obviously supervise your kiddos during water bead activities!
What do water beads feel like?
Water beads feel like squishy, slippery marbles. Water beads are not sticky and actually have a great texture! This is why water beads make for a great sensory play activity.
Where do I get water beads?
You can find water beads in many stores, in all colors but because I am a mom and AMAZON is everything I get my WATER BEADS here!
Water beads for Sensory play
Water beads are extremely calming to run your fingers through. Think of it as textured water. This makes for a PERFECT sensory bin for everyone. Even my husband cannot get enough of this awesome texture!
Water beads for Sensory processing disorder
I briefly discuss sensory processing disorder in my shaving cream for sensory play post, but to recap, SPD is when sensory signals are not detected or do not get organized into appropriate responses. In some cases, SPD can make sensations very uncomfortable or painful and some may not feel a thing. This can affect everyday functions! Playing with water beads is a great therapeutic sensory activity to help kids with SPD. Water beads are a great tactile activity for those little hands to help tackle some of those tactile defenses. When I worked with kids with disabilities, some found this activity extremely challenging. The texture of the water beads can be uncomfortable or painful. This sensory integration therapy helps kids by providing them with structured and repetitive sensory stimulation so that their brains will eventually adapt and allow them to process and react to sensations more efficiently. There are many different textures you can introduce to help do this!
Water Bead Activity
Once you place the dehydrated water beads in water they will absorb all the water and turn into the size of marbles. This could take 6-8 hours so let them soak the night before! I used 3 simple 4 piece puzzles during this activity. Including the puzzle made the activity more challenging for Aliza.
We started with the pig puzzle! I hid the pieces on the bottom of the container. This forced her to have to dig around in the water beads to find all the pieces! Aliza loved playing with these jelly marbles. She was squeezing them between her finger and really enjoying the texture.
Aliza was SO excited every time she found a piece! CAN’T YA TELL! She felt a sense of accomplishment every time she found a new piece. This is a great feeling for a toddler 🙂
This was not a connecting puzzle so it was more challenging for Aliza, which is good!! She loves a challenge. This foam connecting puzzle would work perfectly for this activity because it is foam, which is good for the water beads and it is easy to complete allowing toddlers to feel accomplished!
Next we moved on to the kitty and then the lion! I did them separately so there were not to many pieces in the container! Too many pieces can become overwhelming, plus when there are only a few objects they really have to search to find the pieces.
Once your little one is done with their puzzle, have them hide all the pieces. This will encourage them to get their hands really in there! This is not hard for kids without sensory issues but can be for kids with tactile sensitives. Remember to take it easy and not force it!
Once Aliza was done playing with the water beads, I took some time to introduce my 4 month old, Gianna to some sensory play! Infants need sensory play to help introduce them to the world around them using their senses! Sensory play is very beneficial for babies, so it is never to early to start!
You can hide whatever you want in the water beads! Shells, action figures, toys, etc! Simply playing with the beads is good enough for sensory! There are so many fun things you can do with water beads including sensory bottles and visual acuity activities. I now have tons of water beads at home and will be using them, so stay tuned for future water bead posts!!
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