Curious what to do with water beads for kids? Here are 20 creative activities.
Water beads for kids make great sensory play activities for ages 4+.
They are slimy, squishy, and invite all sorts of play both indoors and out. We use water beads year-round and love all of these invitations to play.
Here’s what we will learn in this post
- How to grow water beads
- What can you do with water beads
- How long water beads last
Ready? Let’s get our water beads ready to play on with your kids at home.
RELATED: We love simple activities for kids at home, and this is a fun idealist.
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+. If you are looking for sensory play for toddlers, start with this step-by-step guide on introducing sensory bins.
They are not edible and should not go in the mouth.
All activities to be done under adult supervision © 2020 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!
RELATED: Want more water activities? I have an entire list of water games here!
How to Grow Water Beads
There are a few steps to growing your water beads.
Purchase your water beads online or in the floral department of a craft store.
Put about 1-2 tablespoons of water beads in a large container.
Add about 1-2 cups of water into the bin. You want just enough to cover the bottom of the sensory bin.
Allow 6-8 hours for the water beads to absorb the water in the bin. This time will allow the water beads to grow in size.
Once the water beads reach full size, there are so many ways to play!
Orders water beads online or purchase at a local craft store. We find it easiest to order directly online.
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We use this brand of water beads linked here.
You can also use a smaller storage bin to “grow” the water beads and then transfer them to the larger bin once your children are ready to play.
Wait 6-8 hours, and watch your water beads grow!
Watching the water beads is great fun, and we like to keep ours at eye level to watch the progress. You will notice the initial expansion happens pretty quickly.
If you feel your child will grow impatient with the wait, prepare the water beads together before bedtime and wake up to a fun surprise!
Water beads can be used for:
- Floating candles or tea lights
- Floral arrangements
- Sensory play
- Science experiments
- Stress balls
And guess what? Water beads can be used again!
After playing with the water beads, place them on a towel to dry.
Once the water beads are back to their original size, store them in a container with an airtight lid. When you are ready to use the water beads again, add water!
Be on the lookout for the used water beads to get moldy. If you notice mold on your water beads, do not reuse them and dispose of them.
20 Clever Water Bead Activities for Kids
What else can you do with water beads other than a general exploration? I found some great ideas from some of my favorite friends!
Water Bead Sensory Play – Days with Grey
Water Bead Color Mixing – Happily Ever Mom
DIY Thin Ice Game with Water Beads – Barely and Birch
Water Bead Outdoor Races – Days with Grey
Giant Water Bead Play – Hello Wonderful
Water Bead Color Sorting – Preschool Inspirations
Frozen Water Beads – Busy Toddler
Water Beads and Ice – The Educators’ Spin on It
Glow in the Dark Sensory Bottle – Preschool Inspirations
Water Bead Painting – Happy Toddler Playtime
How to Make Water Beads Glow – Go Science Kids
Water Beads in a Bag – Gift of Curiosity
Sensory Bottle DIY Ideas – Happily Toddler Playtime
Water Beads and Shaving Cream – Gift of Curiosity
Water Bead Stress Balls – Natural Beach Living
W is for Water Play – Growing Book By Book
Watermelon Sensory Play – Fantastic Fun and Learning
Outer Space Water Bead Sensory Play – The Art Kit Blog
Under the Sea Water Bead Sensory Play – The Art Kit Blog
Early Years Science Experiment – Rainy Day Mum
Water Bead Sensory Scoop – Fun with Mama
Water Play for Babies – Mama Papa Bubba