Water Bead/Gems: What's All the BUZZ About?

There has been a HUGE BUZZ around the web in regard to water gems/water beads. After seeing them on so many different blogs, I figured I had better check them out. Obviously, if so many people are going nuts over them, I had to see if the hype/buzz was really something to talk about.......

It didn't take long to understand why people are talking about these amazing polymer gems!  They are non-toxic, bio-degradable and so much fun to play with!
We put them in a translucent bin on the light table.....
We put them directly on the light table.... (this reminded me of a light brite!)
It was fun to try to rearrange the colors, but the balls weren't quite cooperating to stay in place for any kind of design! They are round, and bounce, and roll, but so much fun to play with!
We tried a small bin, which made the layer of gems/beads deep.....
We tried a bigger bin, which didn't provide nearly as deep a layer of beads... BUT it was much easier for everyone to play at the same time.....

AND.... the big bin was perfect for adding our feet! After all, these beads/gems are so much fun, you can't just play with them with your hands....  Requests have been made to fill a pool with them :).

Needless to say, we are now a part of the BUZZ!!!! 
If you haven't tried out these great sensory materials.... they are so worth it!
I found our colored beads at Walmart near the artificial flowers. They were in packages that needed to be hydrated, individual colors sold for $2 per package. The clear beads were found at the Dollar Tree, fully hydrated for $1.  What I noticed about the beads.... IF you over hydrate them, they get gooey and squish easily. The package tells you to drain the beads after 4-6 hours to remove the excess water. By doing this, they will not over hydrate and they will last longer. Some of the other blogs I read mentioned that the beads lost their color after hydrating. I didn't notice that with ours. Yes, the colors faded, but as the beads absorb water, the color is not nearly as concentrated but the color still remains.  They all will squish under pressure, they all bounce... and they are definitely soothing to play with. (I had trouble walking by them without stopping to play!)


can you tell me how many packages you used to fill the sensory table? I love when kids have the opportunity to experience more than 'enough'.
Lacey said…
Thanks for sharing :)

Are these what you're talking about? http://www.dollartree.com/teachers-supplies/Arts-Crafts-Projects/Decorative-Accents-Clear-Floral-Hydration-Beads-8-5-oz-Jars/208c447c447p310620/index.pro?method=search
Erin- there are 6 packages of the ones from Walmart in these photos.

Lacey- those are exactly what they are. (Well, the clear ones).

The ones we left in water have been falling apart, the ones we strained after the 6 hours are still going strong.
Anonymous said…
You need to be careful with these if being used with young children. I bought the ones from the Dollar Tree and on the box is a warning about them containing chemicals that may be harmful. It also said they were intended for ages 12 and up with supervision. I contacted a chemistry teacher who advised me not to allow children to handle them. These particular marbles/beads contained acrylic acid and sodium hydroxide. Both of which can irritate skin especially if the child has any small scratches or cuts. Although I agree they are a great sensory activity they were not originally intended to be used as such....I advise everyone to use them with caution.
@ Anonymous, Thank you for the warning. I will look into it closer. The ones I have do not have the warning. They state that they are non-toxic and bio-degradable. There is a choking warning on them, so I am careful if there are young children around.
Anonymous said…
The ones I had were being sold in the toy department as a science "Marble Laboratory." Although sold in this department, they came with a warning to avoid contact with the skin and to have good ventilation. Go figure! T
Anonymous said…
We had fun with those...but they mold in just a day or two. :o( ...and kids were popping them into pieces.
One of my co-workers had fun with her children with these this summer with her 4 year olds this summer.
I may have to try them, you make them sound like so much fun.
Although, I will check the labels first, to make sure I do purchase the non-toxice kind.
I enjoyed your photos, and stepping in them does look like wonderful fun.
EBAY has great deals on these! I bought 150 packets for $22. I plan to put them in the kids inflatable 5' pool and it should be 3" deep in water beads
Anonymous said…
Even my 14 year old loves these :)

Ms. Liz said…
LOVE how they look on your light table. We linked back to you in today's post featuring a variety of ways to use water beads (we froze ours and then melted them to see what happened). Plus, we're having a fantastic water bead giveaway! Come check it out:


...and thanks for always sharing such awesome ideas!
JDaniel4's Mom said…
I have seen these talked about everywhere. I so need to get some. They will be perfect for summer play.
Anonymous said…
When I introduce these, I leave them in the water at first. The reason is that they become "invisible". It's hard to tell that they are there. The look on the kids faces when they stick their hand in the water for the first time is priceless! They call them "Magic Balls". (Plus, the water keeps them from bouncing around everywhere.)
Anonymous said…
I love the way these look and feel, but I am afraid to use them because of the choking hazard. Any thoughts on this?
I teach 2 1/2 to 3 year olds
Jennifer Hughes said…
In addition to Monday Kid Corner Weekly Linky Party, this week's theme is WATER. Brush off those archives and link them up at thejennyevolution.com. See you there! Jennifer
Susen said…
I have used the aqua water beads from Dollar store and after about 4 uses I noticed a bit of mold. We use them with our sensory bottle play and my daughter drops them into a bottle with water. After each use I pour the water from bottle into a strainer and put the water beads back into the container they came in from the store. I took them out today and I noticed mold for sure on one of the beads along with a hint of a brownish color on them. Some looked fine but then I noticed some mold on the bowl that I poured the beads into and on some of the other beads that were on the bottom. At that point I cleaned up my daughter and threw out the beads. Anyone else experience this? And is this normal??
Susen said…
I have used the aqua water beads about 4 uses and today noticed some mold. We use the water beads with a bottle sensory play and my daughter drops them into a bottle of water. After each play I drain the water from the bottle and put the water beads back into the container they originally came in and store them away. I bought ours from the Dollar store. I noticed mold for sure on one bead as I usually pour them into a bowl and I noticed a very slight hint of brown. Finally I saw just a bit of mold on the bowl also and at that point I threw them out and washed up my daughter. Anyone else experience this? Or know why this happens? Is it normal after a few uses??

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