Water Bead Sensory Play


I never knew water beads existed until this game, but I’m so glad we discovered them. The soft, squishy beads – which are intended for use in planters, and are available at craft stores – start out the size of tiny pearls and expand in water. From there, the ideas for play are almost endless. You’ll definitely want to play this game with a child who is past the stage of putting items in their mouth.

Part of the fun was the magic of watching the beads expand. Before bed, Travis helped me dump the packet of beads into water, and we watched them inflate a bit – quite quickly in fact. In the morning, even I was surprised how large they had grown!



Travis was so excited that he couldn’t even wait until after breakfast. I gave him a small dish of the beads to stir through while he dined.


Then it was time to really play! I drained off the excess water and transferred the beads to a large bin where Travis could have at them – with a shovel, with a rake, and with our hands. Adults, jump in there! The soft squishy beads feel almost therapeutic.


One of our favorite ways to play was to shovel them into an ice cube tray.


Later in the day, we decided to add a batch of red beads, which we’d been watching expand all morning. Travis loved the way the colors mixed, since the pink and blue began to look purple once stirred together. We even hid Duplo people under the beads for him to uncover.


Full disclosure: your child will probably discover that the beads bounce and roll. I let Travis experiment with this capability in a contained environment so that the beads didn’t become a health hazard to our cat. So do be sure to supervise water bead play closely, no matter your child’s age.