Sensory Play for Children: Water Beads
Magic Water Beads Sensory play is an important part of early childhood development, particularly for children who struggle with sensory integration. Children with Autism or other sensory integration dysfunction disorder have a particularly hard time organizing the information and making sense of the stimuli they encounter. This is where sensory play can be quite beneficial. Teachers of many different age groups are beginning to introduce water beads into sensory play.
What exactly is sensory play? It is designed to have children engage all of their senses in interactive play. Many classrooms and preschools have water tables, sand tables and a myriad of items with different textures for the children to handle. Along with learning about different textures, smells, temperatures, sights and sounds children also begin to learn about spatial concepts (empty and full) as well as a broader vocabulary with comprehension.
It is important to note that water beads were not created originally for child’s play, they are actually a decorative item for flower arrangements. That being said they are non-toxic, but you still want to instruct little ones not to eat them.
Water beads make a fantastic tool for sensory play. They are round, squishy and the clear ones practically disappear in water tempting the children to splash around searching for the little treasures. Kids will spend hours fishing them out of the water and this is only one way they can be used in sensory play.
There are several places you can obtain water beads but Magic Water Beads will always send you the highest quality water beads made in the USA. As a rule these will always be clear, so if you would like to incorporate color in your water bead sensory play you may have to go online to do so. Most online sources will send you bead of various colors, but they will look more like dried out seeds than water beads. Don’t worry, with just a little time to soak in water they will be ready for hours of sensory play.
Water beads you find at the local retailer or craft store will most likely not be made specifically for children. If you are worried about safety, there are several retailers who are beginning to carry products specifically designed for sensory play. The possibilities are truly endless with these little gems so do not be afraid to explore new ways of play. A few suggestions could be lightly scenting the water or adding food coloring, that way the clear beads will absorb the scent or color for an interesting look.