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a ceramic bowl full of rainbow colored water beads rests on a blue background

Basic Instructions:

  1. Take 1 level teaspoon of beads and place in a large container.
  2. Add 3 cups of water to the 1 teaspoon of beads.
  3. Allow beads to soak for 6-10 hours.
  4. When beads reach a desirable size, drain all excess water using a strainer or colander.

Note: Leaving beads in water for too long can cause the beads to break very easily or mold. Beads that are fully soaked should not be kept in water for more than 2 days. However, beads may be dried and re-soaked if you wish to reuse them.

Experiments to Try at Home

Time Lapse

Use a the camera on a smart device to make a time lapse. A time lapse captures frames less often than a normal video. When you play the video back it appears to speed up time.

Find a good place to prop your camera for recording. Water beads take 6-10 hours to fully grow.

Free Play

Water beads are made from a highly absorbent polymer. Run your fingers through the beads for a unique experience. Practice using descriptive language to explain what you feel.


See how high you can get a water bead to bounce.


The combination of slippery and bouncy makes pouring water beads from one container to another a challenge. Try pouring into different size containers or from different heights.


It can be difficult to grip a water bead because it’s so slick, but once you apply enough pressure, they shatter.


Water beads freeze quickly. In just an hour they will turn into frozen gems. Engage in cold sensory play: whack the beads with a toy hammer or rolling pin, squirt them with warm water, run them through your fingers, etc.

If you allow the water beads to thaw you will notice tons of little cracks and fissures throughout. This is because when water freezes it expands, damaging the beads.


Try sorting your water beads by color. You may find this to be very difficult, even for older kids or adults. It is an excellent activity for working on fine motor skills.


Sort out just the clear water beads and place them into a clear glass bowl. Completely cover the beads with water and they will vanish. This is due to light refraction.


Place a pan on the stove over high heat. Once the pan is preheated, toss a couple water beads in. If the pan is hot enough, the beads will dance around. This is because the water in the beads is vaporizing so quickly that the steam is protecting the rest of the bead from the heat. This is called The Leidenfrost Effect.


Too thick of a needle will cause your water beads to shatter, but if you are able to use a thin sharp needle with thread, you can actually make a string of water beads.


Sprinkle salt over a bowl of water beads and observe what happens.

The water is drawn out of the beads through a process called osmosis.