Days with Grey no longer promotes the use of water beads with kids. This post is to use at your own risk, however, alternative sensory filler activities can be found here.
This summer, I am going to freeze a lot of stuff—up first – frozen water bead ice pods.
Families are typically Team Water Bead or Team NOPE. I fall somewhere in between with frozen water bead ice pods.
I love how water beads entertain my children through summer, yet I do not love having them scattered over the front lawn. With frozen water bead pods, melting is the majority of the activity. When the pods melt, water beads are contained! Cheers to that.
What are Water Beads?
Water beads are non-toxic round balls made out of sodium polyacrylate. When water beads are in the water, they expand in size. They are also biodegradable.
Water beads are intended for ages 4 years+. They are not edible and should not go in the mouth. If you are looking for sensory play for toddlers, start with this step-by-step guide introducing sensory bins. I enjoyed reading this article about why water play is important for children’s development.
All activities are to be done under adult supervision © 2021 by Days with Grey LLC, and you need to watch your children closely when they handle water beads. With proper supervision, water beads make an exciting sensory exploration for play!
- Food coloring – You want this to mix with water into the squirt bottles as they spray the water bead ice pods!
- Muffin tin – It’s true. I use this muffin tin more for sensory play than baking muffins. Sure, sure. Becoming a parent teaches you so much more than one can imagine. But the ability to freeze plastic toys? Now that is something unexpected.
- Squirt bottles – These are listed in our outdoor sensory supply list.
RELATED: Our life is repeated with water games and ways to play outside to keep us cool on hot summer days.
How to Make Frozen Water Beads
Step 1. Grow your water beads.
If you are new to water beads, put about 2 tablespoons into a container and add an inch or two of water. Not an exact science. The idea is to cover the water beads for them to absorb the water and grow.
Add the water at night and discover the growth the next day!
Step 2. Freeze your water beads.
Once your water beads have grown, you can add them to your muffin tin.
First, add water to each section.
Next, drop in a handful of water beads and add the tray into the freezer.
Step 3. When your water bead pods are frozen, it is time to play!
Seriously. If our freezer doesn’t scream kids live here, I don’t know what does! I keep things like water beads in my freezer to pull out when we need them right next to the ice pops.
As the water bead pods melt, my four and six-year-old squirt-colored water into each pod. This adds a little more excitement to the play and explores a little color mixing along the way. As everything melts, it all begins to mix into a water table.
Use This Water Bead Activity on Repeat!
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve pulled this activity out on a warm day to add to our outdoor activities. Grab your water beads, freeze them overnight, and enjoy frozen water play with the kids. When will you give these frozen water bead ice pods a go?
Check Out These Best Preschool Activities
- 50 Outdoor Activities for Kids
- The Importance of Sensory Play
- How to Introduce Sensory Play
- 40 Indoor Games
- 101+ Preschool Activities
Activities on Demand
Want great ideas without the ads? Download these 20 hands-on learning games for kids.
Frequently Asked Questions
Water beads will shrink when not used and can come back to a larger size when water is added. Check for mold before reusing the used water beads.
I keep the water beads for one more use, then add them to my plants. Most water beads are biodegradable. Check the packaging before doing so.
Water beads cannot be eaten and should never be put in mouths. You must supervise your child playing with water beads at all times. Use your best judgment if water beads are a good play opportunity for your family.
How to Make Frozen Water Beads (PRINT HERE!)
- Food coloring
- Muffin tin
- Squirt bottles
- Water beads
- Grow your water beads.If you are new to water beads, put about 2 tablespoons into a container and add an inch or two of water. Not an exact science. The idea is to cover the water beads for them to absorb the water and grow.Add the water at night and discover the growth the next day!
- Freeze your water beads.Once your water beads have grown, you are ready to add them to your muffin tin.First, add water to each section.Next, drop in a handful of water beads and add the tray into the freezer.
- When your water bead pods are frozen, it is time to play! Seriously. If our freezer doesn’t scream kids live here, I don’t know what does! I keep things like water beads in my freezer to pull out when we need them right next to the ice pops.As the water bead pods melt, my four and six-year-old squirt-colored water into each pod. This adds just a little more excitement to the play and also explores a little color mixing along the way. As everything melts, it all begins to mix into a water table.