Fun With Water Beads

Thursday, 1 May 2014

If there's one thing the local town has in abundance, it's pound shops.  They appear to be everywhere.  I'll admit to rather liking them at times, obviously some are considerably more palatable than others.  Some are a sweaty dark caverns of doom with over stacked shelves looming over you with tit and tat that you'll never need yet judging by the price you convince yourself you might need it, someday.  Yet others are simply bargain central.  I can't for the life of me remember the name of it yet there's one in particular that is light, airy, tidy and well presented.  The perfect stop for those pesky hairslides that Thing Two inevitably loses, all the time.  I refuse to fork out extortionate amounts for them when I can get 30 for £1!  Their six packs of baby flannels make excellent reusable nappy wipes and it's a little haven for cheap craft and art bits and bats for The Spawn.  It also means, after a boring shopping trip we can afford to treat The Preschooler.  He easily finds something he'd like in there every single visit and at a pound a pop, why not?

On our last visit there I was drawn to something I've been tempted to try for some time, water beads!  I'm not one for popping into florist supply shops on a whim and I never quite got round to ordering them online so this seemed almost like an omen.  I'll admit to being a trifle suspicious at what we'd get for a £1 so the skeptical side of me purchased two boxes just in case.

It's a rather simple process, you simply add the minuscule little packets of colourful doo-dahs to water.  They came with their own test tubes with the suggestion you fill it with a colour of your choice.  Sod that.  It would be akin to picking out a particular colour from cake sprinkles.  Never to do something by halves we opted instead to dump both packs into a large bowl of water.  The idea is you then observe as they grow.    I'm never quite sure who has the least spectacular attention span, myself or The Preschooler, regardless, neither of us were bored enough to stare at a bowl of water for longer than a few minutes.  Granted they did grow, yet they seemed to stop producing a deflated 'is that it?!' reaction from the both of us.  To say it was underwhelming would be an understatement.  I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt as the instructions have no indication as to how long it should take for them to expand fully.

We checked on their progress about an hour or so later and this was more liking to what I had expected, we
had a slimy bowl of multicoloured marble sized balls in water.  It's impossible to gaze upon them and not plunge your hand into them.  There is something creepy yet utterly satisfying about the slippery slime of the water and these slippery balls.  Granted the little buggers like escaping and they're an arse to pick up off the floor.

Their charm proved irresistible to Thing Two also.  She couldn't stop herself from plunging her hand into them.  In her usual effortless way she encouraged play through asking The Preschooler to find certain colours to make 'potions' as I introduced some measuring cups and the test tubes.

Seeing water slop all over the show I drained the beads so they had the shiny, glistening, oddly textured little balls of delight to play with, without the added mess of water.  This proved equally as satisfying to them and just as beguiling.  I feared they'd have a limited attraction, a mere novelty yet they audibly groaned when I told them it was time to tidy up and the first thing Thing Two requested to play with upon arriving home from school today was the water beads.

They are tempting though.  Just a mere glance of them is teasing to the senses.  I'll admit to having dunked
by hand into them on several occasions today in passing.

I think they'd look stunning over a lightbox in a dark room.  They'd also be more engaging with a longer shallower tub to hold them in.

These are sublime for sensory play and are helpful in teaching colours and the notions of absorbing and expanding. If you haven't tried them already, I highly recommend you give them a go.


  1. Oh these look amazing! I want to try them now, I'll keep my eyes open.

  2. I bought some of these at Christmas to play with on our Tuff Spot but can't find them now. I need to buy some more!

  3. These look great. One thing that I don't find time for is real sensory play with the kids - and I keep saying that I will make time, and I should! Thanks for the great idea! x

  4. LOVE water beads! We get ours from Ebay- had no idea the pound shops sell them! Thanks for the tip :)

    1. I got them from the one near Primark in Bolton.

  5. Those look really fun! But I think I would be trying to stop my youngest from eating them.. maybe in a few months we'll give it a go (have a feeling I'm being optimistic about how long he's going to be in the trying to eat everything stage)

  6. Neat! We have been having fun with crystal water beads, and I would have never thought to bring them outside. Good to know they are safe for the garden. I hope you come by and share this tomorrow at The Outdoor Play Party.


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