Continuing our Space theme, today I decided to finally get the waterbeads out to play with. We experimented briefly with these back at Easter but the eldest two weren’t so keen on them. Since then we’ve dabbled with them in zip lock bags, but only when the baby has been in bed (due to the fact they can be very dangerous if swallowed, and the baby likes to eat everything). Today though, the pre-schooler asked to play with them so I thought we would have a go.

To start with, we watched a short clip of some astronauts in space and talked about the fact that everything floats in space. I did mention gravity but I wasn’t too worried about explaining this concept due to his age. The important concept I wanted him to grasp today was sinking and floating. So we hunted around the playroom for things we thought might float in the water. Once we collected a few things, we set up the water tray with warm water and glitter. Then we added the water beads, which the pre-schooler was surprised to see sink to the bottom. Then we:

  • made a guess about each item before adding to the water
  • talked about the tings that floated and what they looked like and felt like
  • talked about the things that sunk and what made them different from the things that floated
  • what the water beads felt like in the water
  • the different colours of the water beadssink or float sensory tub with water beads

The water beads made this sink or float tub a multi-sensory experience and I was thrilled that the pre-schooler was happy to touch them, scoop them and play with them for quite some time. We talked about how they were slimy and how they popped when we squeezed them. We also talked about how they looked like glittery stars in the glittery water.

space theme sensory tub with water beads

The pre-schooler enjoyed using the water beads in his water play for a while and soon asked if he could play in the Tuff Spot too. So together we transferred waterbeads from the tub to the tray, using large spoons and sieves to collect them and taking care not to spill any on the floor. I tipped some fresh warm water into the tray too and invited the pre-schooler to play there. He had great fun with his hands, then his feet and then eventually his whole body as he stripped naked to sit in the water! After a while, I brought the pre-schooler back to the float or sink tub and we:

  • talked about what the differences between things that floated and things that sunk were
  • weighed the different items with our hands- the pre-schooler noted that things that sunk were heavier than things that floated
  • watched how the things that floated moved in the water, and how they moved when we swished the water with our hands

sink or float space theme

Then it was back to the Tuff Spot (and clothes back on the floor again!) and the pre-schooler brought some of the space themed toys in with him too. He played for quite some time, inventing stories and using different voices for his characters. He also spent some time squashing the beads between his fingers- but we did manage to save some for next time! The sink or float sensory tub with water beads was a huge hit and the pre-schooler was able to tell me all about what we had done a few hours later, which is fantastic! A multi-sensory learning experience we are sure to repeat!

water beads in the tuff spot