Water Bead Science

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We just discovered water beads.  I know, I know, we are a little late to the party. These things are all over Pinterest and lots of terrific kid/play blogs all over the internet.  We finally found some and decided to figure out what makes these beautiful, squishy marbles tick. Water beads are tiny little things until you add water. Then they expand to the size of small marbles.

I made a Water Bead Science Observation worksheet, which you can download here (it’s free), and the Creek Kids and I began to explore, Why did the beads get big?  What happened to the water?  

Measuring the water beads after 2 hours: they grew from 1 1/4 tablespoons to more than 5 cups.

We measured the beads after soaking them in water for 2, 4 and 6 hours. They grew each time. Before measuring we made a hypothesis. How many cups of beads will there be now? We recorded that, then the actual number of cups.

We recorded other observations about them:  “They feel like gelatin.”  “They don’t pop. They break apart.”  “They seem bouncy. Will they bounce?” We tested that one out.  The answer is yes!

While my kids scooped and measured and played with the wet water beads, I wrote down their observations as they called them out. You can download this observation sheet by clicking on this photo.

Now that we’ve observed and learned about water beads, we are going to have some great sensory fun with them! Need some ideas? Check out the Teach Preschool website, where Deborah has linked up many fun ideas. And you don’t have to have preschoolers to try these out.  Also, look at these easy to make Water Bead Night Lights, using glow sticks and mason jars.

If you are not familiar with water beads, here’s some information about them. They are actually a floral supply item.  You can find them in craft stores or some big box stores for just a few dollars.
 When you put them into a bin, they take up very little space.
 When you first add the water, they look blurry and so pretty.
Doesn’t this look like fun?  If you try it, I’d love to hear about it. Send me a photo via email or facebook and I’ll post in on the Creekside Learning facebook page and Google+ page.  Check out what Susan at Learning All The Time and her girls did with this experiment.

Speaking of Google+, I’m having fun exploring over there. Are you on Google+? Let’s connect there. 

Sharing this post on some of the great Link-up Parties you see here

Water beads should not be ingested. Please supervise children and pets closely when playing with water beads. 



    • Linked and tweeted, Liz. Thanks. I’ve seen you link-up before. Great ideas! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  1. You aren’t the last one to the party ~ I’ve never bought them either…although I’m thinking I should!!

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    • I’m glad to know I am not alone, Jolanthe. And, yes, you should totally get some. Your kids will love them. 🙂

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  2. It’s still on my to do list, so you’re not the last one by a long shot…….

    Thanks for linking up to Science Sunday!

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  3. Hi, this looks like a great idea but are they toxic or anything. I have a little one who is constantly putting things in his mouth so am very reluctant to try this with the other kids incase he gets a hold of some.

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    • Hi Clare,
      I definitely would NOT give them to a child who puts everything in their mouth. Water beads should not be ingested. My kids are past the phase of putting things in their mouths but we are super careful with water beads because of our pets. Water beads are very bouncy so, when dropped, they often bounce around and can easily get across the room quite fast, rolling underneath furniture. I do a very thorough clean up, making sure to gather any beads that have escaped.
      Hope that helps,

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