Math Games: Water Beads

Have you discovered water beads yet?

They are polymers, also called gel beads,  that start off as tiny little balls and expand to much bigger balls as they absorb water. They’re often found in florist stores or the home decor aisle of stores – and they’re great for all sorts of play.

As they grow their texture changes from dry and hard to super tactile and wobbly, just right for sensory play. They’re good in sensory tubs or science experiments  but also versatile to be used in math games.

Water Bead Math Games

The simplest way to use them for math games is just to count them. They’re so tactile and fun to handle they make the counting lots of fun.

You can also use them to work on classification, grouping and shapes. Take a mixed pack of the water beads so you have a few different colors and combine them with some containers. Choose containers that are different shapes and sizes and you have a math game ready to play.

  • Can you sort all the yellow beads into one pot? The blue ones into another?
  • How many orange beads do you have?
  • Have your got more blue water beads or orange water beads?
  • Can you fill the round container with one color, the square one with another and the rectangle with another?
  • Do you need more water beads to fill the round tub or the square tub?

You can also use the water beads to make shapes, or rank them into lines of different colors and lengths. Can you make a stripy triangle with one pink water bead, two purple, three yellow and so on?

The water beads are so squishy and roly-poly that there are likely to be lots of giggles as you play your math games – and everyone learns so much more when they’re having fun!

Check out some other great Quirky Momma ideas for playing and learning with water beads:


  1. I have been seeing water bead activities all over pinterest and have been wanting to do something with them. This will be a great way to teach my son counting and separating colors. Thanks for another great idea.

  2. I wanted to use these with my preschoolers who are 3-4 years old. I am just worried that I would buy the wrong kind. I see some in jars at Michael’s that are in water. Are they the ones to buy?

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