Water beads are all over the blogosphere for the preschool crowd and so, since we don't have any preschoolers, I didn't pay much attention. After seeing them a bit, however, they looked so interesting that I had to give them a try.
Water beads are actually meant for use in flower arrangements to add color, water, shine, and texture to the water in a jar. Water beads are said to be non-toxic and environmentally safe, but do carry warnings on the package. This issue should be handled by each parent as they see fit. If you decide they are safe for your children's use, remember that they are not designed for child’s play and young children should be supervised so they do not eat the beads. They are a choking hazard. Older children should also be explained the rules for their use. They should not be poured down the drain or flushed down toilets.
We purchased ours at Walmart for a few dollars, but they can be purchased online or at craft stores as well.
They come to you in little clear envelopes as tiny dehydrated beads.
You take them out of the envelopes and let the beads sit in water (about a quart and a half) for up to 12 hours so they will reach their full growth potential.
After they have been in the water a couple of hours, and they begin to really swell, they develop this bumpy look.
By the time they have grown as fully as they will, they will be holding over 100 times their weight in water. When water beads sit out of the water for several days, they will shrink back up into small beads and can be stored for future use. When you let the water beads sit in water again, they will expand into marble shapes once again.
Water beads feel like soft, squishy, smooth marbles. They bounce and a they roll. They are somehow relaxing to play with.
They are not slimy and they do not dissolve. These are very popular with the preschool crowd when added to a water table. I have heard of people using them with light tables, letting them absorb glowing water to making glowing beads, painting with them, putting them in translucent Easter eggs and mixing them with shaving cream for a sensory experience. There are lots of fun uses for these babies.
These water beads are like a water absorbing polymers and are made up of chains of molecules. Water has both a positively and a negatively charged end. The long molecule chain of the polymer gives water lots of opportunities to “stick.” The water is then absorbed into the polymer, which makes it grow bigger. It is very much like the water absorbing qualities of the gel inserted into diapers, which also get bigger when it comes in contact with liquids.
The Wonderful World of Water Beads at Teach Preschool
Glow Water Beads at Play At Home Mom LLC
Water Bead Science at Nurture Store
Water Beads at Raising Lifelong Learners