(Goblin is 28 months)
Maybe I should call this post "The truth about water beads". I kept seeing posts on the American blogs about these things called 'water beads'. But they aren't part of the UK's normal play repertoire and I didn't really understand what they were. Then Cathy at the Nurturestore
found some in the UK and wrote a great post. I felt inspired so I rushed out to buy some.
Basically they are the water retaining gel that florists use to keep cut flowers alive in vases. They look super pretty and feel like squidgy marbles - and when soaked for long enough are about the size of marbles too. I actually found some at Hobbycraft that were ready swollen. Proper water beads come as tiny beads smaller than a grain of rice and have to be soaked for 6 hours to get to a decent size. If you want to buys some in the UK they are available at amazon called Expanding Gel Aqua Beads
. But be warned they come with a scary label that says "DO NOT USE AS A TOY, KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN"! Goblin has stopped putting stuff in his mouth so I thought I'd risk it.
A lot of the posts about water beads go on about finding a way of containing them. I had assumed this was just about containing mess. I have recently been training myself to be super calm about mess (more on that in a different post), so I thought I'd just pop them in a tub and they'd be fine. HAHAHAHA!
I gave Goblin a giant sieve spoon to scoop them with. He started off well but these things roll - and I mean far, far away. I think I will be finding them for weeks to come. They also squish under foot leaving a rather unpleasant jelly substance on the floor, so while a carpeted room might contain them better I wouldn't advise it.
And its not just that they roll, they are also "slippery little suckers" (to quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman). When you try and pick them up they scoot off across the floor. And when you try and put them back in the bowl they bounce. Like crazy little bouncy balls, right out of the bowl and all over the place.
In case you didn't get this, I'm saying ALL OVER THE PLACE!
So hear are a couple of pictures of the type you see on posts about water beads. They do look very pretty, especially with a light shone through them. (We don't have a light box so I just shone a torch through the bottom of the bowl).
You might think from the tone of this post that the issue was more with me getting stressed by the mess, but actually I remained rather zen like and amused by the whole thing. The problem was that after an initial 'what new strange thing is this' type interest, Goblin got frustrated by their unwieldy nature. He couldn't hold onto them for long enough to do anything with them. And after about half an hour he gave up and started to play Robots with the plastic bowl instead.
I won't write Water Beads off all together. They are a pain in the back side to keep contained but I'm sure I can get some further enjoyment out of them. I was thinking maybe mixing them in with a non newtonian fluid (cornflour and water) to make them more handleable. But I have to conclude that for now they are not the unmitigated success I was hoping for.
I'm linking this to
I have to laugh at this. I used them with J in our kitchen - we don't have anywhere that they can escape and hide it's fairly small. All he wanted to do was pretend that they were frog spawn and then squish them! I've got a few more things that we are going try with themReplyDelete
yeah I saw your post actually when I was looking for inspiration on what to do with them. I need to try again but I think I'll leave it a while.Delete
I love your honesty, and I LOL's at "Slippery little suckers." FYI, for the strays that got away that you might be finding in future days/weeks. They dry up and vacuum easily. :)ReplyDelete
oh thats good to know - as long as i don't squish them in the mean time!Delete
Made me laugh when you were so darn truthful about it. I've been tossing up whether to actually get them. I think it's not fun if you put too many restrictions on the kids like don't eat it, don't take it out of the owl and dont throw it around. If all it is is squishy and pretty, then it might be an activity for the um......where would be a safe p.ace to play with it? Great post.ReplyDelete
Yep I don't know what I was expecting but I thought it would be more than just pretty and squishy, and it wasn't (except maybe pretty frustrating)Delete
lol.... you have made me giggle! so nice to read a "REAL" experience rather than a bloggified one! XXReplyDelete
I agree with Pip.ReplyDelete
And I love your writing.. made be giggle as well :)
They are kind of a pain to keep contained. Last time we used them I put them in the tub! I just put a little mesh around the drain so they wouldn't clog it and scooped them all up with a cup :)ReplyDelete
What a great and funny post!! I'm laughing with you, not at you. =) We haven't done water beads yet mainly bc I try to be frugal, but I am sure we will succumb at some point to the water bead phenomena.Delete
I think that a half an hour of sustained activity is great for a toddler!
I was feeding Bam Bam when I read this and kept disturbing him with the snickering I was doing. You crack me up :) The best advice I saw was from Dirt and Boogers- do it on the floor on a towel or blanket. It tends to slow them down. Boogie loved bouncing them all over the kitchen but did not love retrieving them. Ours got moldy after a little while, but more concerning was that the packs we bought have a small warning on the bottom that they have been known in the state of CA to cause cancer and reproductive problems. Whaaaaaatttt?! After the mold, and reading that, I have not put out more. It is on my to do list to call the company that makes them and ask about it, or research if there is a brand that doesn't have a warning like that. It says non-toxic but that kind of sounds toxic to me!ReplyDelete
This is a great story! Full of honesty and wit! As anal as I am about the floor this would not be fun for me. Might be an ok outside activity though.ReplyDelete
Wow what a lot of lovely and useful comments. Sierra, putting a towel down sounds like a great idea.ReplyDelete
I totally agree! We had a very similar experience! http://dirtandboogers.blogspot.com/2012/02/exploring-water-beads-and-parenting.htmlReplyDelete
do you know what I read your post a while ago and at the time I thought, for a mum who normally sounds quite calm in her posts this sounded a bit more 'stressful'. And when I wrote mine I looked for your post to link to it and i couldn't find it. Thanks for giving me the link again.Delete
Ha ha! We love them here, but I find I love them more when I keep them in a giant tub outside. I stopped stressing about the squashed ones inside when I realised they just dry up and disappear. The hoover gets them easily. For the poster about being frugal - I got mine off ebay and they were really cheap (like £3 for 60 tiny bags of them from China).ReplyDelete
We had water beads all over our basement when 2 5 year olds were left unattended! (So I understand!)ReplyDelete
I do my water beads and sensory bins outside. Because then the mess doesn't need to be contained. First time I did sensory beads I learned how awful they were. I had a crawler but gave them to my four year old during nap. I spent hours on my hands and knees getting them as many as I could. I prayed that my baby wouldn't find any. It was a terrible, horrible mess so yes next time out side.ReplyDelete
I was so excited to find water beads at the dollar store today, after hearing so much about them and how they are so great for sensory play. Well, I hate them. There, I said it. My 4-year-old squished them up and bounced them out of the water table (they bounce??!). They are annoying little beads and, like you said, they get everywhere. I'm glad to know I'm not the only anti-water bead mom around! lolReplyDelete