Thursday, March 15, 2012

Creative Painting-Water Beads

Water beads, or 'water babies' as my preschoolers have always called them, come in a pouch of sand sized beads that when soaked in water grow to various sizes, depending on which ones you purchase. We use them for a variety of things in our curriculum from sensory tables to sink and float experiments, and we have rolled them around in paint before, but today we had a different idea. 

We often times let them grow, use them, then let them shrink back down, grow them, shrink them, and so on.  This time, before they shrink back down(a process which takes quite a long time), I decided that we could sacrifice a few for the sake of art.
I started by adding a few to a paint tray.
Then I added tooth picks to the water beads.
We use liquid water color for almost everything.
Fill the cups with paint.
Voila!  Masterpiece!  Now, some things to note:
  • This will make a mess.  If you do not like messes, this is not for you.  
  • If you use plastic toothpicks, they won't suck up the color, but what's the fun in that?
  • You don't have to use water color paint, it just is a favorite for the kids.
  • Don't expect the water beads to stay on the toothpicks, because the point of this exercise isn't water bead balance.  It's learning about them falling off, chasing them around, poking them with the toothpicks, rolling them, pinching them, smashing them, and all of the fun things that you can do to boost those fine motor skills.  
  • Do not direct what they are painting.  This isn't an, "Okay class, let's paint a portrait of your family" type of thing.  It's purely exploratory and learning cause and effect. 

Have some fun and get creative with the things you use to paint with!  Reclaim those old water beads and smash them to oblivion in the name of art!

Trust me, you're gonna love it!


  1. We are two hilarious girls scouring the countryside for all things lost and tossed so we can use our imagination to create new things through the process of upcycling so we can give something beautiful back to the world. Our environmental responsibility to reduce, reuse, and recycle is our number one priority, and watching something old and tossed out become something new and beautiful is what we live to do.
    Edmonton Painters
    Painters Edmonton

  2. Neat! We have been having fun with crystal water beads , and I would have never thought to bring them outside. Good to know they are safe for the garden. I hope you come by and share this tomorrow at The Outdoor Play Party.