I've been wanting to try out water beads for a long time, and weather week provided a great opportunity to make this rainy day sensory bin. Water beads can typically be found in the floral department of many craft stores, or you can order them through Amazon. While they are non-toxic, they should not be ingested so use your judgement as to whether or not they are a good choice for your family. I also rinsed them thoroughly after they had puffed up, gave stern warnings about them not going near mouths, supervised this activity closely, and helped my girls thoroughly wash their hands after we had finished playing with this bin.
Whew! With that out of the way, these things are awesome! They start out as tiny little pellets, then you add water and they swell up to marble-sized. They're wet, slippery, a wee bit slimy, and very addictive to run your hands through. They take several hours to plump up, so get them started the night before you plan to use them.
I set it up several different ways throughout the week, but in general, this rainy day sensory bin contains:
- blue and clear water beads (I bought one small package of each color, and used about half of each)
- rubber ducks
- paper cocktail umbrellas
- laminated "weather words" that Lena has been reading all week
- Bananagram tiles with some of Maggie's focus letters of the week (R for rain, S for sun, W for weather)
- white and black clouds, and lightning bolts cut from foam sheets
We played with this box in lots of ways.
We buried Lena's 'weather words' and Maggie's letter tiles and then went digging for them, reading and identifying letters as we went.
We searched for the smallest, largest, and "mediumest" beads we could find.
We filled up umbrellas, cups, and bowls (with extra warnings that they are not to go in mouths).
We made the duckies fall in love and get married.
We made it rain by scooping and then pouring the beads as a sprinkle, drizzle, steady shower, and downpour.
This rainy day sensory bin was a really fun way for me to play with my kids. It kept all of us happily entertained for over an hour. Normally I only end up playing with my kids for a few minutes at a time before something else that feels more important beckons, but the legitimate need for close supervision while playing with these water beads kept me playing with them for much longer!