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!