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Giant Water Bead Play for Toddlers

So, the other day at Michael's I found these giant water beads, they were just like the small ones that I love so much, but they were huge and they were on clearance! So for $0.99 I picked up a couple packages. I opened them one morning, hoping to use them that afternoon, but I was sad to learn they take 48 to 72 hours to fill. So, I waited...three days. 

In that time, I notice that these beads were not quite as awesome as the ones I'm used to. Many of the beads cracked and broke before they were even done filling up.They also ended up being double the size the package claimed they would be. When the beads were ready, they still broke at the slightest touch, which was disappointing. 

Despite their flaws, I had to figure out a way to use them. A sensory bin {my original idea} wouldn't quite work since they weren't sturdy enough for play. So, I came up with a simple Montessori inspired scooping tray. 

The idea was for Henry to scoop the big beads from one big bowl to the next. Its a great way to work on coordination,control, and fine motor skills. The beads themselves were very slippery so this proved to be quite a challenge for Henry. But the texture and their fun bounce kept him interested until every single bead broke open. See Henry in action in this Instagram video!

At that point, we purposefully squished them all and made a really fun gel. Then we had our sensory bin! Perfect for little feet, hands and the scoop.

Overall,  these were really fun while they lasted. I wish they hadn't been so fragile. But they were a cool activity on a hot summer afternoon!



Teresa said…
I had similar issues with normal water beads, but I had left them in too much water for too long. They were very fragile.
If you have a pack left, try soaking them with less water. They will be smaller, but hopefully sturdier.
Hope this helps!
Yeah, I could see that. Except these are really wrinkled until they are filled unlike the little ones. So, then you still don't have a "water bead" per say. You know? But it could have been the package? I don't know.
Honest is the only brand of diapers that work for my 4 month old. I've used them since he was 2 months and I NEVER have leaks. And buying them from internet is really the cheapest. I buy at least 30 bucks worth at a time, shipping is FREE that way. They are cheaper than the grocery store, tax free, AND delivered to my door step. Excellent!
And, I'm going to email the Honest company and ask that they don't spam random blog -- bad form, bad form.
Dyan Robson said…
We tried the giant water beads a few months ago and same problem. They broke so quickly, but hey, the boys had fun squishing them into pieces. And my niece loved to check on them every few hours to see how they grew.

And nice spam above...haha
What a bummer those beads didn't turn out like regular water beads. I would love to have water beads that big for my kids to play with, but not if they just fall apart. :( I love that scooping activity you came up with though.
Lindsay said…
Oh man, these were SO cool -- that stinks they're so fragile! But the gel looked super fun, too!
I'm glad I'm not the only one that had this experience with them. And, yes, squishing them turned out to be a lot of fun.
jesse hunt said…
Is there a good reference somewhere(or an earlier post) on waterbeads. I have seen them all over pintrest, but had no idea what they were. When I found some and tried to use them with my 2 & 3 year olds in a sensory bin, I was really disappointed. The crumbled easily and didn't seem to safe. The package claims they are nontoxic, but what would happen if one got swallowed? Seems like it would do some damage. Of course I watched my kids carefully, but the beads bounced and rolled (and broke) all over the kitchen. I'm wondering what would happen if a child or animal found a lost one later.
I don't have a specific post on water beads. But from my experience, they are not dangerous at all. Yes, you need to watch them going in their mouths, and I have no idea what would happen if one was swallowed. My guess is nothing, they are essentially water. If they are left out, they won't stay big for long, they actually shrink back to the tiny beads they were originally after a few days of being exposed to the air.

They can get all over your house if you are not careful, but they make an excellent outside toy, or try playing with them inside a baby pool in your house to contain them a little. Like all sensory activities these can get messy. Hope that helps.
Unknown said…
I've never seen these larger ones...looks like so much fun, those pics are just so sweet! I'm featuring on my Kid's Co-op post this week...thanks for sharing them!
Thanks so much! I'm glad you liked them!
Anonymous said…
You do not want a child ingesting these. They are super absorbent polymers. If a child swapped one, it will expand in their stomach as it takes on water. I don't think our would be fatal, because it can only absorb so much water, but still. Thy also should not be put down the drain. This is the same stuff that is in disposable diapers that soaks up urine.
Anonymous said…
Salt will dissolve the water beads
Anonymous said…
Salt will dissolve the water beads composition
Unknown said…
We have been having fun with crystal water beads, and I would have never thought to bring them outside. Good to know they are safe for the garden. I hope you come by and share this tomorrow at The Outdoor Play Party.

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