Have you heard of water beads? They are so much fun! They're also easy to make. I ordered a pound of these beads from Amazon, and I received three small packets of beads. Half a packet made enough to fill a 6-quart tub with room for toys.
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I put the dry beads in the tub and filled it with water. I always have to add more water than I expect! It takes a few hours for the beads to absorb the water and get to their full size.
When they're done, I add some toys! This week I added different frogs and a lily pad. Many of my groups read There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Frog (using this book companion), and the beads were a fun reinforcer. It was also an awesome way to continue working on speech/language skills (and my kids thought they were getting a break!).
Want some ideas for therapy activities? Here are some of the things we worked on:
- Describing: The different colors/textures of frogs gave us lots of opportunities! We can also describe the beads (or any other toys you choose). I love using the Expanding Expression Tool and my Teaching Visuals to help support students who need additional support.
- Basic Concepts: Students can put the frogs in, on, under, next to, behind, etc.
- Verbs: You can hide, scope, squeeze, bounce, etc. the beads.
- Following Directions: Going along with basic concepts, students can follow (and give!) directions. Great way to work on receptive and expressive skills!
- Articulation: Pick words that the student can use repetitively (e.g., "Scoop __" or "Squeeze __" for /s/-blends) or strategically select toys that have their sounds in them.
- Turn-Taking: The bin I used is pretty small, so some of my groups need to take turns. Even with smaller groups, the students have to share the toys in the bin.
- Prepositions: Some beads inevitably fall out of the bin. We can use prepositions to help each other find the beads.
- Joint Attention: For my minimally verbal kiddos working on joint attention, we sometimes take beads outside for some fun. They love seeing the beads bounce, and the beads are often a great communication temptation. I've gotten some beautiful eye contact, gestures, and some good laughs.
- Problem Solving: Oh, and there's some flexibility/problem solving built in, too... Sometimes the beads will get dirty, bounce out of reach, or (gasp) get smooshed.
- And so much more! Let me know if you have more ideas!
A few more thoughts...
- The beads hold up for quite a while, but I usually don't get them for more than a few weeks at a time. I have kids wash hands before and after playing with the beads, but I'm sure germs still build up after a while.
- The beads are supposed to be non-toxic, but I avoid using them with kids who I know will try to eat them.
- Apparently you can dye and freeze the beads. You can also use them to make slime or add shaving cream. There are many more ideas on Pinterest.
- To avoid finding beads around your room (and avoid the germ/eating issue), you could also add the beads to a balloon, water bottle, or plastic bag.
- You can find fun toys to add to the beads at the dollar store, but I found some super cute fish and bugs on Amazon!
That's all! Do you use these in therapy? Want to check them out? Click the link below!
If you want to hear me talk about the beads, watch this video!