Have you found the wonderfulness of water beads yet? Seriously, they are AMAZING!! They are such a wonderful sensory experience for all ages (even adults). I love them just as much as J does!
However….I had a bit of a problem finding a good place to set J up to play with them.
I started him off sitting at the table. It started out ok, until…he found that moving his hand back and forth really quickly caused the beads to jump out of the bowl. He loved watching them bounce out and onto the table and floor.
I normally wouldn’t mind a mess, but we have cats, and they love things that can be batted around and that roll….like water beads! I was afraid that they might ingest them, so I found myself on the floor scrambling to pick up water beads instead of enjoying my son’s play….and getting a bit frustrated.
So…I moved him upstairs and put the beads on the light table.
This was a bit more successful, but we have carpet upstairs and after more than a few water beads got smushed into the carpet, my blood pressure had had enough. I was getting frustrated at this point. It was either take the beads away completely because he couldn’t keep them inside the container, or find a way he could play with the beads however he wanted to without adding extra stress to my life.
So…I moved him into the bathroom sink! He already plays there with bubbles almost every day, and it’s a perfect way of containing a mess. I added some sea animals to enhance the play a bit.
Finally I had found the perfect place to play with water beads! We could shut the cats out of the room and there wasn’t carpet for the beads to get smushed in.
I could have just taken away the beads at the table when he chose to make them fall on the floor, but I chose to find a way to make it work.
I debated with myself about that decision. You see, I want my son to listen and be well behaved. Children learn to listen by parents being consistent and following through with things they ask their children to do. In terms of obeying, I should have taken them away when he chose to not stop making the beads fall on the floor.
But, I didn’t do that this time because I wanted him to have meaningful play experience. So, I found a way to make it work for the both of us.
I still question myself on the decision I made that day. Maybe I should have taken them away for not listening.
But, he would have missed out on the wonderfulness of water beads and I never would have found the perfect place to play with them.
This is why being a parent is difficult sometimes…the questioning of yourself.
What would you have done?
LOL I love that you shared this adventure with water beads. I keep thinking I want to get them out – but I think I am going to wait until I can take them outside!
As I read your story I thought you would end up having them in the tub with your cutie! Which may be really fun!
I did put them in the bathtub that night…it was quite an experience. I’ll share all about it tomorrow!
Amanda..I had bought some water beads at the Dollar Store..I was all excited when I found colored ones at Walmart…Then, I read the back and saw they can cause cancer….I then put them back..for a product to actually say it causes cancer made me question letting my Daycare children play with them.
Hi Shannon, I also recently heard this. After further research, I’ve discovered that if they are dry (before soaking in water) and then crushed up, than the dust can cause cancer. It still makes me a bit nervous about using them. Like always, it’s up to the parent and their comfort level on if they want their kids to play with them.
I totally understand putting them back. If I had seen that, I probably would have put them back too.
Pint Sized Life
I would have done the same thing. Perhaps with a smaller kiddo taking the activity away would have been more appropriate. I think in this instance, though, J is old enough to work through the problem solving with you a little even if he doesn’t verbalize all of the problem solving. Moms aren’t perfect and plans have to be changed to make the activity more workable sometimes. Kids need to learn that lesson too. And it is REALLY hard to contain those slippery little guys!
Thanks for the wonderful comment! I didn’t think of it this way. I’m glad I taught him a little lesson in problem solving!
I probably would have taken them away then later wished I had done what you did….still learning
I guess it’s just a lose-lose situation. Overall, I’m happy with my decision, but still something to ponder. Thanks for the input!
Anna @ The Imagination Tree
So fun! And yes, they do need more careful planning than some other sensory stuff I’ve found too!! We just did a VERY similar under the sea scene with ours this week! Post is scheduled for Friday 🙂
Now, I know to plan better! Looking forward to seeing your post. You always have such good stuff!
I don’t think as 22 month old, he was trying to be defiant. I think he was just being a scientist. So I’m glad that you worked through it and found a solution that worked for both of you.
I don’t think he was trying to be defiant either. I was more of an issue of not stopping when I said stop. However, when somthing feels as wonderful as water beads, it’s hard to stop touching! I’m glad I worked through it too!
Hi, I had a similar experience with them in my nursery class – the first day in the water tray they bounced everywhere & some got squashed. However like you I realised they weren’t doing this on purpose or just to annoy me. We had so much fun with them that I plan to get some more for next term. I love this post because it will let people know that they do bounce/get squashed etc. – perhaps some of the other posts didn’t stress this enough! Kierna
Hi Kierna. I had no idea either! We will absolutly be playing with water beads again, I’ll just be more prepared next time! I bet they would be a blast in a classroom!
They are fairly easy to clean up, they vacuum up. If they roll out of sight, they dry up. Actually, I’d worry more about the sink because they would clog a drain. They would stay wet and might clog up. If they get away in the house somewhere, they just dry up into little tiny balls again. Messes and your tolerance for them are such a constant agitation. Glad to see someone writing honestly about it. I am a family child care provider, and I have a tolerance for much, but sometimes it’s hard not to say DON’T do that!
Thanks for the comment! I really like messy play and we do it a lot around here. My problem wasn’t the mess, it was that the cats were playing with the beads. I didn’t want them to injest them. By the time we got upstairs on the carpet, I was already a bit frustrated and my tolerance was much lower for the mess. Oh, and I plugged the drain in the sink first :).
I think you did the right thing. 🙂
I try to put myself in my kids’ shoes, and asking them to stop in that situation would be like telling myself to skip dessert. 😉
Lots of great comments, and I have to echo that I appreciate your candid words.
Thanks, Allison, for the sweet comment! All I’ve read about water beads is how fantastic they are, but we didn’t have a fantastic experience. I was a bit bummed, so I wanted to tell about the down side of them as well.
cathy @ nurturestore
We got our first ever set of water beads this week and have really been enjoying playing with them. My tip is to put the tub of beads inside an empty paddling pool. My girls sit in the pool and can play away happily and any stray beads are contained in the pool (away from our cat!) and easy to clean up afterwards.
Oh Cathy! You are wonderful, what a great idea!
This is a great idea! I bought my first set of beads today and thought I’d check Pinterest for the best way to handle this without his daddy (LOL mister clean) getting all freaked out by the mess. What I didn’t realize was that they dry up so I can reuse them?! Sweet! They’re not cheap.
Even after 23 years of working with kids I have experiences that put me in the same place this one put you. There are times the activity stops. Others where we can find an alternative way. What I think is important is to first respect whatever decision you need to make at that time. There is learning from everything. Then reflect to see how you might change it up another time to support what you were hoping to accomplish.
Like your solution here.
I use a deeper container (at least 6″ sides) when we do water beads – seems to allow for free exploration, but containment also.
Thanks for your supportive comment. I’ll try a deeper container next time.
I had a similar experience but instead of the sink ended up in the tub. I like Cathy’s idea of a pool. I will try that next time. Thanks for sharing. I think you did the right thing. We all doubt ourselves sometimes but don’t be too hard on yourself. In the end it was a fun activity and a learning experience. win-win!
Thanks Nicolette! I’m better with my decision and I’m glad we did it. I learned a lot that day! I think the bathtub is a great idea.
Growing a Jeweled Rose
So fun! I think you came up with a great solution to the problems that surfaced. I usually let my girls play with them in a wading pool. Water beads are such a sensory experience, and I like Rosie to be able to feel them between her toes, on her legs, all over as much as possible. She loves to lye in them and make water bead angels (like snow angels)Aren’t those little gems fantastic! I look forward to seeing your post tomorrow 🙂
Yep, I think I’ll have to try the pool next time. I bet J would love playing with them in there!
I loved this post! We have to be flexible with our children at times and that is a good lesson. I found that playing with waterbeads in containers over grass is excellent. When the beads fall onto the grass they act as little “waterers”. The same basic idea is used in agriculture. They just dry up as they release water and become little granules, when the lawn is watered, they plump up again, reserving water for when the grass needs it.
Grass! What a fantastic idea! Thanks Miss Amy!
I just got some for my kids to play with and they had a great time. I didn’t know they bounced – which was fun to do but a mess to pick them up – especially if they get stepped on. I would definitely do them again though – my high schooler loved them more than anybody!
They really are great for any age!
Thank you so much for this post I introduced water beads also this week to my just a few days shy 14mo son. I made a ocean sensory bin and was concerned that as does everything things would go into his mouth. Although he tried a few times our problem ended up being throwing the water beads and the seashells across the kitchen. I tried to redirect him by letting him throw the animals into the bin and even encouraged throwing the water beads into the bin because like you I started to become increasingly frustrated running around grabbing the beads because I was worried he would find one later on when no one was looking and choke on it. So it soon turned into not being fun and interactive My question is I understand that this throwing is part of normal development but do you or anybody else have suggestions in how to handle this situation.
Hi ravgrlxoxo….Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. I’m going to ask my followers on Facebook about the throwing thing. J is also a thrower and it’s something I’ve struggled with for a while now. I do make him pick up and put away toys that he throws, but I haven’t seen much improvement…sigh. Make sure to follow along on Facebook to see what others say. I hope we get some good answers!
Thanks I def will do
Where would I find water beads? Are they made for children?
They are actually made to use in plants to keep them watered, so they are found in the floral section of craft stores! Don’t worry..they’re non-toxic. I found mine at Walmart for $2. I’ve also heard that they can be found at Dollar Stores.
Hi 🙂 We did this a few months ago and I set up a large bin with a shower curtain liner underneath. You can check out our set up herehttp://tottreasuresnorthbay.blogspot.com/2012/01/exploring-our-senses-with-waterbeads.html. It went well!
Finding a way to make it work is exactly what I would have done! I took a parenting course with a trusted child psychologist (Parenting from the Heart); she said that the way children’s minds work, it takes a thousand times in context for them to internalize a command. They definitely aren’t doing something in spite of you. They are completely in their own world…they want to please, but they want to have fun and the desire to learn and explore is part of who they are. Patience and love, love, LOVE is what our children need; you, Amanda, are doing a great job!
Thank you for your sweet words and knowledge. I also believe that the pull to play is sometimes stronger than following directions to stop. I’m glad I found a way to make it work.
This post is awesome! I had a similar experience today, so I can relate to it. A few times I got frustrated and threatened to take the items away, but then we both worked on a better way to make it work for the both of us.
We used them in a giant plastic bowl on the kitchen floor . I put a large beach towel down first that way if they escaped the bowl they didn’t get far!
The Dollar store sells small plastic baby pools (I got mine for 8$), these are the perfect size to set a toddler inside with the bowl of water beads… bounce away, mess contained, carpet protected, cats healthy and not ingesting water beads =) This is a good trick for a lot of messier sensory games
Lovely idea! Until I stumbled upon your blog, I had never even heard of water beads. Thanks for the idea and sharing:) I hope you don’t mind, but I added a link to your site from my blog, since I got this idea from you:)