Friday, 17 July 2015

Water bead play for toddlers

A few months ago I wrote about water bead play ideas for babies (see here) and an awesome waterbead waterbed but I originally got them for D, not Iz, as they are NOT taste-safe and you need to watch carefully to make sure none are eaten. Luckily D is now out of the "must-eat-everything" stage, although I do always re-iterate the "no eating" rule at the start of any water bead activity...

So here are a few of the things D has done with them over the last few months:

Sorting colours

Pretty simple but it kept D busy :) all you need is an assortment of colours all mixed up in a bowl and then make yourself comfy whilst your toddler spends the next 30 minutes separating out the colours!

Just squishing

If you've never felt waterbeads you won't understand how nice this is to do. They are soft and squidgy but not slimey - perfect for squishing :) and at the same time make sure you "bounce" them (but don't lose them!!).

Shaving foam and waterbeads

We sprayed foam onto a cheap baking sheet and then D arranged the beads to make patterns. Or just randomly dropped them wherever. Using tweezers he then tried to pick them all up again (this is pretty tricky and after a few minutes he got annoyed and used his fingers instead...) and put them in an ice cube tray.

Painting with waterbeads

A variation on marble painting this was great fun. Put a piece of paper in the bottom of a high-walled container (we used a roasting pan from Poundland) and dip some waterbeads in paint. Drop the beads onto the middle of the paper and swivel-swivel-swivel! Let dry and you have a waterbead masterpiece :)

Waterbead "soup"

Super simple but fun and also good manipulation/fine motor practice. We used a big tub with water, a smaller "bowl" for the soup, some silicone cupcake cases and a spoon to do the creating. D had fun scooping, swishing and putting groups of waterbeads in the cupcake cases.He happily played in here for over 20 minutes (at which point Iz woke up from her nap so the water beads got put away!).

Waterbead ice cubes

I froze some waterbeads in individual ice cubes (some were even turtle shaped but it ended up being pretty hard to tell that when frozen!). I then gave D a tub of yellow coloured water and all the ice cubes in a tray. He dropped them into the tub one by one, watched them melt, watered them with the watering can (Iz LOVED watching this in action!) and then caught all the pieces in a net at the end. This was the only waterbead activity listed here that Iz was present during and she was *very* heavily supervised, making sure she did not put any beads (or fragments of) anywhere near her mouth.

Frozen waterbeads 

I froze all the waterbeads that were left after we'd done all the above activities and saved them for a really hot day. Incredibly the British weather obliged a few weeks ago so out they came. First D swooshed them around the tray, then he tried to break them up with a spoon. Next a water gun came out, before a bottle of water.


Once they were all defrosting he spent ages transferring them from the box, onto the lid, and back into the box again. He loved trying to catch them on the spoon!

Note: once you have done this the waterbeads aren't reuseable again - once frozen and defrosted they become fractured and break up into smaller pieces.


And he obviously enjoyed the skittles and giant water bead water bed we'd previously made and played with too :)


Disclaimer: as with any activity involving your toddler/baby, use your own judgement and common sense. I always closely supervise any sensory play and always inspect items for wear/tear carefully before each playing session. Water beads are NOT safe if ingested. Always make sure you are confident with the safety of whatever your child is playing with.


  1. Hi, where did you buy the water-beads from? Juliette

    1. I bought them from Amazon - each packet was about £1 and you get hundreds per packet. I got about 5 packets to get a range of colours and now we have enough waterbeads to last us forever I think! Lol