I feel like I have come full circle with this activity. Water beads were originally manufactured for florists to be used with flowers. Since then though, parents have been putting them to all kinds of creative uses.   Water beads can be lots of fun on light tables, with shaving cream, and in science experiments, to name just a few examples.   We decided to go back to basics the other day though and to have fun with water beads and flowers in a sensory tub. If you are unfamiliar with water beads as a children’s sensory toy you are in for a treat!  You can buy them either already filled with water or in their dehydrated, seed-like form.  We like to start with the tiny seeds because it’s fun to see them grow.  It takes a few hours for them to expand to their full size. Once they’re filled with water, my kids favorite thing to do is to drop them into a container of water where they seem to disappear.  It’s fun to “magically” pull them up into sight again with your hands. Water beads feel nice and squishy in your fingers, and (I think) under your toes as well.  (Although, for some reason, my girls were a little disturbed by the feeling under their feet. They only kept their feet in the tub long enough for me to snap a picture.  Oh well.)
They DID really enjoy scooping the beads and water into cups and pouring them into containers.  I threw in some wildflowers that I had gathered on a walk, and we called it soup. A big metal ladle from the kitchen, can turn just about anything in a container of water into a fun “play soup”.  Try it sometime with plastic animals, legos, or just sticks and leaves from around the yard.
For more fun activities with water, dive into some of these great posts from some other Quirky Mommas:

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  1. Hi

    Firstly they are non-toxic. I loved using them. My biggest disappointment the past few months has been to realise how dangerous water beads are. First I just worried about the choking risk (marble size) but in the past 2-3 months there have been articles in medical journals about another danger. They have been swallowed by young ones and continue to expand in the intestine causing severe blockage. One 6 month baby died of post surgery complictions and a few others have had surgery to relieve obstructions. Do a google search and you will find the articles. Latest one in Pediatrics Vol 130. No.4 2012.
    Sometimes we need to change our minds about play materials.

  2. Congrats! Your post was one of the top picked post linked up in our Crafty Showcase! We appreciate you sharing your water beads and flower sensory tub idea as well as the other post you linked up. I hope a lot of people ran out and bought water beads to do with this their kids or grandkids!

    We will give you a shout out on our Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest accounts today. Have a super weekend and we hope that you will stop back in and share with us starting Saturday morning!


  3. We’ve never played with water beads but definitely going to check them out! And that first picture is amazing with the sunflower in the water bead 🙂

    1. Thank you, Marnie! I was really excited when I saw how neat those flowers looked through the water beads.

    1. Susan, we got ours at Michaels in the flower department. They cost us a little over two dollars. I have heard tell though that you can find them at the dollar store for even cheaper.

  4. We love water beads here at the Clubhouse, and have used them in many ways, and with many things. Flowers is a new one though. Looks like fun, and something we will definitely have to add to our growing list of water bead activities! 🙂 Pinned this to our Water Bead Adventures board. Thanks.