Monday, April 4, 2016

The Joy of Water Beads

In March's Monthly Moments, I mentioned that Connor played with water beads for 2 hours and was surprised by how many people weren't familiar with them. We've been playing with water beads for nearly 2 years so I thought I'd put together a post with where to get water beads from, how to hydrate them and some of the fun thing we do with them. At the bottom of this post, I've shared a handful of pins that give you additional ideas of what possibilities there are for using water beads to snag yourself some quiet play time.

Where to Buy Water Beads
Over the last 2 years, I've bought water beads once! All you need is one bag to last you 2-3 years. It seems like a lot -- both beads and time -- but I can promise you buying them in bulk is the best price and you will love having them on-hand. I bought them through Amazon for less than $20 (with free shipping!). Those are the ones you see pictured above and in the photos shared below. You get 16oz or nearly 30,000 beads in an assortment of colors. You can also find them at most craft stores in the floral section (water beads are used as a vase filler).

Hydrating Your Beads - Easy as 1, 2, 3
When you purchase your beads, you'll notice they are tiny. To create water beads for play, simply empty the tiny beads into a container -- I like using plastic shoe box sized ones with a lid -- then add water. I usually fill my container a third of the way full. The little beads are made from a water-absorbing polymer and as the beads absorb the water, they grow, grow, grow. If your beads aren't about the size of a dime, add a bit more water and then will plump up in no time. I usually allow our beads to sit overnight and grow nice and round before we play with them. It always makes for a fun surprise for Connor in the morning.

Fun Way to Use Water Beads
You'll need to gather up a few items, all of which you may already have one hand. Once you've soaked your water beads overnight, you'll need a scoop, sand sifter, small plastic dinosaurs (or any animal/toy) to hide, plastic eggs and an ice cube tray. I set up our IKEA kid's table with your water bead kit and tools and Connor instantly knows it's time to start digging and playing. We separate the beads by color into the ice cube tray, we dig for dinos, we fill the eggs and count how many beads we can fit into each one. Connor loves seeing how full he can get the sand sifter before beads begin to spill over. The possibilities are endless.

We made this batch of beads on March 3rd and was able to use them until mid-month. I don't like to use them much longer than 2 weeks. As a warning, if you have little ones that like to put things in their month, you'll want to watch them closely was they play but I recommend using water beads with little ones around age 18 months or so. They are a excellent way to incorporate mess-free sensory play into your day.

Here is a list of 10 fun and toddler approved ways to play with water beads.

As Moms we all know the value of the quiet time and finding something that keeps our little ones entertained. Water beads is my answer to mess-free fun that can take place indoors or out. I hope you and your little one discover the joy in these beads like we did and continue to.

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