Water Bead Sensory Bin

Okay, so I know that we are very likely the last ever play-lovin’ people to jump aboard the water bead train, but we’ve finally done it.  And they’re awesome.

The truth is, while I’ve known that they could be purchased online, I was hoping to just ‘bump’ into them one day while doing some shopping.  I know this is ridiculous, but I’ve had my eyes peeled for months while at children’s stores and teaching stores, but of course I’ve had no luck finding them in those places… Am I the only person on the face of the planet that did not know what water beads were actually intended for?!  Here I was, thinking that they were some sort of revolutionary sensory-based material designed especially for play, when they are actually intended for using in flower vases and readily available at florists and in the floral sections of craft and dollar stores.  Duh!  My bad…

That is until we were picking up a couple of lily-esque flowers for a pond sensory bin in our local dollar store the other day…  Sure enough, there they were.  Squishy, shiny, smooth marbles packed in small containers of water.  Non-toxic and environmentally safe.  Score!  I may have been a little overly excited given the situation… But hey, what can I say?

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We first used them during our recent messy play date and today we took them outside again in a simple water bead sensory bin.  Miss G requested the water beads be in pink water, so pink water it was.  We gathered up a few kitchen goodies (a slotted spoon is a must) and headed outside.

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The coolest thing is that because these particular beads are clear, they’re nearly invisible when in water (especially in non-coloured water).

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Then you put your hands in the bin expecting just water and discover a squishy, slippery surprise.  (Of course, Gracen already knew what to expect, but apparently it still felt wonderful enough to get elbow deep in the bin.)

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Catching them while in water can be a little tricky, but it’s a big part of the fun.

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That’s where a slotted spoon comes in handy (especially one of this size).  Grae quickly realized how much easier it made collecting her bouncy water beads and got to work filling up her tray.

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Of course, what fun is a sensory bin without squishing your toes in it?

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A few things to keep in mind about water beads…  Firstly, though they’re non-toxic, biodegradable, and environmentally safe, they {obviously} should not be ingested.  Also, from what I’ve read, they clog drains quite badly, so if you set up a water bead station in your bath tub or sink, be sure to use one of those mesh drain inserts to make sure none of them slip down into your pipes.  Lastly, they will dehydrate over time if left out of water.  Either store them in a sealed container with a little bit of water, or if they do dry out, simply soak them in water for 8 to 12 hours to rehydrate them.

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I have a feeling there’s a lot of water bead fun in our future…  Brad and I picked up several packages of the dehydrated kind while on a little date night to the Summer Night Market last week, so we’ve got a stock pile of red, purple, pink, aqua, and multicoloured ones ready to go.  I’ve already got a million ways to use them floating around in my head… How fun would setting up a bubble tea station be? Or putting them into a big container of thick shaving foam? What about mixing them up with glow sticks and playing with them in the dark or creating a Halloween sensory bin filled with water beads, slime, and creepy crawlies?  I feel a Pinterest visit coming on very soon… ☺

3 thoughts on “Water Bead Sensory Bin

    1. Apparently they are! I’m no expert, but from my research I’ve learned that they’re a water-absorbing polymer. You can read tons about them online!

  1. I have researched them over and over, and while they do break down, they are not actually biodegradable. They just break down into tiny tiny pieces, that eventually could be eaten by small creatures. Truth is, they are still a type of plastic, and not earth friendly. I really wish they could make some that are truly biodegradable. For now, if you want something similar to play with that is biodegadable, try tapioca pearls, aka BOBA. Totally biodegradable.

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