William loves sensory play, so for his fourth birthday he received two large packets of water beads for his sensory bin. This being the first time we’d played with water beads, neither of us knew what to expect. For example, we didn’t anticipate that when spilled out of the bin, the beads would bounce and be fairly tedious to pick up. For this reason I had to approach clean up as a fun fine motor activity, which created the game Water Bead Pick Up.
When I first introduced the water beads to William and Corinne, I just gave them the bin with no cups or spoons or construction toys (William’s favorite for any sensory bin). I wanted to allow the kids to explore this new sensory item without any expectations of what they should do. Soon, however, they were both rummaging through the kitchen looking for fun tools to use. I encouraged two items: a melon baller and a gravy ladle. My purpose in recommending both of these tools was to give the kids some practice in the twisting wrist motion that would be required to scoop and pour the water beads into a container using these tools.
William found using the melon baller to be rather tedious at first, but with some encouragement he continued practice until his container was full.
Corinne, on the other hand, has quite a bit of patience with activities like this. She first used the ladle and had a great amount of success with the twisting wrist motion of scooping and ladling. Her inability to keep the container of water beads over the bin was what got us into our water bead mess. Once missed scoop resulted in 1/4 cup of water beads bouncing all over the preschool table and my kitchen floor. Thus, the game water bead pick up was invented.
Really, water bead pick up is not much of a game. It’s just cleaning up a mess. I simply asked the kids to use their fingers and thumb like pinchers to pick up the water beads. This ended up being an excellent fine motor activity, using similar skills as beading pasta or making bean mosaics.
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.