How to Prepare Water Beads

How to Prepare Water Beads

Water Beads are like a hidden gem of sensory bins. I’m always being asked, “Where did you get these?! They’re so cool!” They are the simplest of simple to prepare, can be reusable, colourful, and therapeutic even! There is something about the texture of Water Beads that calms and children with certain triggers and sensory disorders have experienced success and joy when playing with the beads.


  • Water Beads (read on for where to purchase and how much to use)
  • Water
  • Bin
  • Measuring cup

How to Prepare Water Beads- Sensory Bin Prep


1- Add Water Beads to bin. For smaller individual sized bins, begin with 1/8 cup or one small package. For large bins, use 1/2 – 3/4 cup. It’s always safer to add less in the beginning and add more if needed. Keep in mind that they expand many times the size of the original bead.

2- Add Water. Fill bin 1/4-1/3 full with water. You can always add if needed.

How to Prepare Water Beads- Sensory Bin Prep- Adding water


3- Allow Water Beads to grow and expand. I leave them overnight for full expansion. They will begin to ‘grow’ immediately, however, they are ready when firm and perfectly spherical with no bumps. If you notice that there is no water left in the bin and beads aren’t firm- add more water.


4- Water Beads are ready! A Water Beads bin is great for hiding things, scooping, sorting, pouring, with a light source/table, and more! They also bounce!


*Water Beads will mould if left in sealed container post-use. Leave container open and beads will shrink back to original size as they dry out. Repeat steps 2 & 3 when ready to use again.

**I buy my Water Beads from Education Station. I’ve purchased Water Beads from other stores before from the floral section, however, those beads tend to smell like chlorine or bleach and don’t expand as big as the ones from Education Station which are non-toxic and odourless. I’ve also found that the colour options are awesome from Education Station vs floral sections at stores like Walmart and Michaels. They come in small packages or the giant 1 lb package (pictured above).

***It is possible to dye Water Beads as well. You can place clear Water Beads in coloured water that has been coloured with liquid watercolour or food colouring. As they expand, they will absorb the colour and voila!



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