Water beads are one of our favorite sensory bin fillers and if you haven’t experienced them yet, head straight to amazon and order some. Water beads never seem to amaze me with their growth. The photo on the left is of water breads directly out of the pack and the photo on the right is of the beads once hydrated.
“Multi-sensory experiences help deepen learning and memory, especially when paired with movement.” Gill Connel
My daughter is four and I still believe play is the most important skill for her to learn and continue to work on. We enjoy adding educational aspects into our activitie; she is like a sponge and absorbs so much of it. For our most recent sensory play we explored the life cycle of a bee. The educational aspect was able to flow naturally as she was occupied scooping and handling these bouncy little beads.
We paired our activity with The Honeybee by Kirsten Hall. This book is beautifully illustrated and has a poetic flow to the story as it explores the Honeybee’s year of life. We loved this book so much more than I originally anticipated and it has quickly become a favorite. I love to incorporate books into our play to expand on topics and work on reading comprehension. You can purchase the book, water beads and the bee lifecycle items here.
To create our lifecycle portion of the activity, I used a paper plate. I labeled each cycle and numbered them one through four. As we played in the beads together we talked about the different stages of a bee and became familiar with terminology so putting the objects in the correct place was not as challenging when the time came.
I often have two containers available when doing sensory activities because kids love scooping and pouring! I always encourage this and add cups, bowls, scoops, etc. While exploring this particular bin Lily told me she needed to grab something. She came back with this piece of cardboard, which was in my cardboard stash for DIY projects, she told me she was going to make a honeycomb. These are my favorite moments in our activity time. I love to see her mind hard at work.
If you have never used water beads, be aware they expand a lot. Be sure to have plenty of room in your container for them to grow and allow them to sit in a generous amount of water. I typically keep and reuse my beads for about a week. Some say you can keep them much longer but I try to be very aware of bacteria especially because they contain moisture. These are also something that would be very dangerous if ingested. The beads can continue to expand and block airways, so always use close supervision.