Light Cube: Water Beads and Alternatives


Talking about transparent objects is a great way to move into a sensory exploration of water beads! Although you should reserve this activity for older students, we list some alternatives to water beads that you can experiment with yourself.


Water beads are found at most outdoors or garden stores. The water beads are used to retain excess water–they swell to a larger size and feel squishy to the touch.


Pour water into a basin and drop in your water beads. The water beads are very tiny at this point. Leave the beads to soak overnight.


Once the beads have fully soaked, they will look like squishy marbles!


Since the water beads can pose a hazard to young children, it is best to leave this activity for older students or you can try some of these alternatives:

Use quick cooking bubble tea BOBA! These little tapioca starch balls are used in novelty bubble teas. Use the quick cook kind, or purchase a premade jar of tapioca balls. Let them soak overnight in warm water with a bit of food dye to color them!

You can also use basil seeds, which swell when stirred into water. Repeat the same process by leaving them to soak in some colorful food dye.


Use sieves, cups and other cooking tools to experiment with the buoyancy of the water beads.


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