Water beads are small polymer beads used in sensory bins, sensory bags and all kinds of sensory activities for preschoolers. They wiggle, they jiggle, they’re soft and squishy, and they’re wonderful for sensory play!
Water beads are all the buzz in the preschool circles and among the kid-bloggers at the moment.
You can buy waterbeads here with my affiliate link.
What are water beads and what are they used for?
Water beads are cool, little dehydrated polymer beads that start off not much bigger than a grain of salt. To hydrate water beads, you soak them in water for a few hours and as they absorb the water, they expand to about the size of a marble.
Originally, water beads were intended for floral purposes – to be added to a vase of cut flowers.
We prefer to use water beads for sensory play though. They’re so fun to play with.
Have a look, and tell us what you think!
For your conviencience, this post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Where can you buy water beads?
I purchased my Water Beads right here from Amazon, but you can also buy them at Walmart, or a garden centre.
I was so excited when they arrived in the mail yesterday that I couldn’t even wait for the hooligans before getting started with them.
My son and I dug right in to them, and we soaked our water beads right away.
Soaking your water beads:
We let the water beads sit in the water for a couple of hours to hydrate, and then my sons tried them out.
They LOVED them. My 13 year old said “These are the best things in the whole house! If I was in the daycare, I’d play with them all day”.
I have to agree. Water beads are VERY cool.
Today, the Hooligans got to play with them. They were a huge hit.
How to use water beads for play
I made a large sensory bin with our water beads, by simply filling a storage tote with water, and adding some small toys, spoons, scoops and containers.
The hooligans had a blast sifting, scooping and pouring them into ice cube trays and containers.
They LOVED the feel of them too. They’re so soft and squishy. Kind of like a Jell-o marble.
Water Beads can be a choking hazard:
Of course, because they’re the size of a marble, water beads hey pose a choking risk for young children, so please supervise very closely if you’re using water beads with children who still like to put things in their mouth.
A big thank-you to all the creative preschool bloggers out there for sharing their water bead fun on their blogs!
I never would have known about these little gems otherwise!!
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.
oh they look so cool, I can’t wait to order mine – would you advise to go for lots of different colours? i can’t believe how much they ‘grow’!
I’d definitely get lots of colours, Kierna. I got the orange/black for Hallowe’en. There are tons of colours on Rainbowwaterbeads.com, and the prices are great. I don’t know if they ship outside of North America though. Hopefully if they don’t, you can find some where you are. And yes, I was amazed at how much they grow! I had a little panic when I opened the pkg and saw how teeny the bags were. But I was THRILLED once they expanded!
I ordered some too but I can’t remember where I ordered them from. They should arrive any day! I can’t wait!!
How exciting!! You’ll have so much fun with them!!
I, too have seen these everywhere! I’m going to check our local dollar store, but if they’re not there…I’m ordering some soon! How fun!
You’ll love them! They’re so neat. My big boys got into them as soon as they got home from school. lol
Curious, are they easily popped when squeezed or do they hold up pretty well?
They hold up very well! They will pop if you squeeze them hard. BOth my sons wanted to see what it was like to pop one, so they did, but none popped yesterday when the little ones were playing with them. They definitely won’t pop just in regular play.
Can’t wait to get some water beads too! Lately we have been obsessed with creatures that grow (I think they are made of the same ingredient as water beads!) We got them from our dollar store!
Hi I just ordered some and now I’m wondering what some of those ideas were from all those other blogs you mentioned. Love your photos!!
Play at home Mom, Hands on: as we grow, The Chocolate Muffin Tree, and Messy Kids all have great posts about water beads on their blogs. (as well as many, many other awesome ideas for play!)
Thank you! Now I am really excited. One other question, I plan to use them in a kindergarten class- would you recommend putting them into the water table or a large tub? Once they soak up the water do you drain off the excess?
You could use them in either the water table or a large tub. They might be less likely to get away on you in the water table. They’re bouncy little things. You don’t have to drain the water off, but again, they’re very bounce if you do drain them so I prefer to keep mine in a bit of water when they’re playing with them. Some brands go slimy or mouldy if you keep them in water, but I don’t have that problem with the Rainbow waterbeads.
Thanks for the advice Jackie! I ordered them from the Rainbow company 2 seconds after I read your post! Love that you’re a fellow Canadian!!! from Snowy Vanderhoof, BC!!
You’re so welcome! So nice to meet up with you too! Most of my followers and fellow bloggers are from the US, UK or Australia, so I”m really happy you’ve hopped on board! Have fun with your beads! Feel free to share any pics on my f/b page, Maureen. Not just of your waterbeads, but any crafts or activities you do with your kinders. Keep in touch too, eh? 🙂
Thanks for the link, Maureen! I’ll be sure to get over and have a poke around. 🙂
We just got ours today! Like you, my boys and I tried them out at home first. They are so FUN! They remind me of the tapioca starch balls (‘boba’) that come in the Asian Milk Tea. I ordered mine from Amazon.com. Ten small bags was only 40 cents….but add $5.00 for shipping. Still, pretty CHEAP for a whole lot of fun!
That’s an amazing price! So glad you’re loving them!!
We loves ours!! Got a multi colored pack at Joann’s Craft and used the 40% off coupon 🙂
Amanda @ Dirt and Boogers
Water beads are so much fun. I wasn’t too happy with them the first time I used them, because they bounced all over the place. I’ve learned different ways of playing with them and I now LOVE them….oh, my son does too! I haven’t taken them outside yet, but I will this week.
Check the Dollar Tree in your area too: mine has them packaged along with foldable plastic vases. Only 5 g per package, but that expands to about 2-3 C of beads, which was plenty for my kids.
yea! a fella canunk … we are in Ont. I opened a home daycare just over a year ago, and I too have placed an order!! So excited to get these for the kids 😉
I love bumping into fellow Canadians in this big old blog-o-sphere! There are a few of us from Ontario kicking around. 🙂 Have fun with your water beads, Krista!
I was introduced to playing with waterbeads this spring at a teaching conference. They are fun and go over well. The ones I got at the conference did pop/break after a while though (I used them with preschoolers) but still provided a good bit of fun. You can also play with the broken pieces although they stick to fingers more. They’re non-toxic though. You can get them at walmart too in the floral area and I’ve seen them at either a dollar store or craft store (already expanded) as well. They can be fun for kids and adults alike! 🙂
I clicked onto the site where you purcahsed your water beads from, I wanted the five pack as well. Site says they only ship to the US and Puerto Rico though 🙁 Any other suggestions for ordering?
I’m in Canada, Holly, and they’ve shipped twice to me. Where are you located? I’ve never used another company, but I know you can get them in the craft aisles at Walmart and at some dollar stores here in Canada, and the U.S. They’re a florist bead – for keeping cut flowers hydrated. You might try a local floral shop? Have you tried googling “waterbeads” or “polymer waterbeads” in your area?
Water Beads Canada http://www.waterbeads.ca