How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity

activities | January 5, 2017 | By

How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity

I’m all about free play with my 3 crazy kids and I love setting up art and craft activities which are completely open-ended and just sitting back to see where they will take it.  If you have been following this blog for a while, you’ll know my kids have wildly different temperaments so it’s always really fun seeing the different directions they take things.  

Have you tried using sensory water beads with your children?  They are awesome fun, and I got a packet of a thousand for less than $2 on aliexpress.  They are so simple to use: you literally just tip them into a bowl of water and you can watch them fluff up right in front of your eyes.  They have the most glorious feel.

Warning: these are not safe to be swallowed, so obviously watch little children really closely.

How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity

How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity

My 4 year old is changing heaps at the moment, which has coincided with her allergies and eczema improving, so generally she’s just a much happier camper. She has always been mad into pretend play but now she’s all about being a ‘big kid’ who is off to school soon (actually our plan is that she won’t start for a long time yet, but we may have to be a bit flexible!); and every day she brings out her books and new pencil case and wants to write stories and do maths.  So it’s really interesting to see where she goes with her free play now as she often turns it into a maths type exercise.  Sure enough, pretty much as soon as she picked up the water beads she was asking what would happen if she tried to cut piles of them into halves and quarters.  Then she had a go at making them into circles, squares and triangles (this is actually very difficult as they are slippery little suckers!!!).  She is loving making sets of buttons at the moment, so she sorted these beads into different numbered sets.  My just turned 2 year old had a go at sorting them into colours but honestly she’s got a pretty short attention span so it lasted about 30 seconds.  She has an extraordinary attention span for throwing them up in the air though.  

How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity

However, the fun really started when I had the ridiculous idea to add shaving foam to the mix.  This is actually very cool, and the kids LOVED IT…but the clean up was something else.  I laid two large sheets out and pretty much let them just go for it, then we bundled the sheet up and tried to wash the foam out, but honestly next time I will probably just throw them out and start again.  The sensory factor is 10/10 though. My science mad 9 year old has always been hugely into cause and effect and it pretty much dictates everything she does 24/7 so she was all over it.  

How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity

How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity

the carnage….

How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity

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Miss 4 loved cutting piles of beads in halves or quarters:

How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity

How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity

And making them into different shapes like circles, triangles and squares:

How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity

Then Miss 9 set about creating all sorts of shapes which she measured out to make sure were EXACTLY even (not my asking!  I hate the term ‘perfectionist’ but she does like to have things ‘just so’).

How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity

Then she set about investigating the strength of the beads and found items around the house to explore with.  She was completely fascinated to find out they could hold the strength of a plastic peg without breaking for a time.  She also put different weights on top of them.

How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity

She then used them to show equivalent fractions 🙂

How to turn sensory water beads into an awesome learning opportunity

I’d really love to hear how you get on using them and if you have tried other cool activities using them 🙂

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