Please excuse this post in which I didn’t make anything, but am I the only one who didn’t know about these things? I discovered them at our “Science Tots” class at the Children’s Museum – we basically signed up for the class because you can play for free at the museum afterwards, and the class fee is way cheaper than the admission fee….but I digress. Anyway, last week they had a tub filled with something slippery and squishy and very satisfying to the senses, which turned out to be “water beads.” Lila (and every other kid in the class for that matter) loved them, so we went out yesterday to get some of our own.
Water beads are little polymer “marbles” that store and release water – they’re designed for floral arrangements and are sold in floral departments everywhere. Our Joann’s carried a brand called AquaGems. The website says they’re colorfast, non-toxic, and biodegradable. Not to mention beautiful little translucent spheres of eye candy. And really fun to touch.
We bought two 1-liter bottles (one would’ve been enough to dig her little hands into, I’m just a bad judge of volume and wasn’t sure, so went with two). I couldn’t find a big tub at home, so we got out a bunch of clear containers (clear is a must to showcase all those lovely colors – and wouldn’t a light table would be amazing?) and played with these things for most of the morning. Lila chose the rainbow mix, so in addition to digging and scooping and feeling, she also sorted them by color into an ice cube tray.
When it was time to clean up I found an old Ikea pitcher to store them in, and Lila painstakingly transferred the beads from her ice cube tray into the pitcher’s spout, one at a time. I think I got about 25 minutes of quiet time during this process, and she played with them (alone again! this is huge, because she always wants me right by her side) before dinner for another half hour, and asked for them first thing this morning, too. I’m not sure how long the beads last, but they’re already totally worth the $7 I spent on them.
I must disclose:
- While they’re pretty sturdy, if you squish them between your fingers they’ll crumble. And the little pieces aren’t that easy to pick up. That said, only a couple broke apart while we were playing – they withstand regular handling just fine.
- They bounce like crazy, which is pretty cool, but when they hit the floor they tend to scatter. And they’re wet, so if your floor is anything like mine, they pick up a bit of debris when they fall. We just rinsed ours under water and they were as good as new. I think a large tub would contain spills better than these little containers did.
Today she discovered that the water beads are perfectly sized to shoot out the spout of her new teapot in a very satisfying manner. Good times, I tell you. Good times.
P.S. Hope everyone had a very happy Valentine’s Day. We celebrated in the classic way: heart shaped PB&J and pink milk.