The past week, my daughter has been experimenting with something that I have wanted to buy for about a year: water beads. I remember when everyone was talking about them at work and water bead activities were popping up all over Pinterest. I was hesitant to go out and to buy them; mostly, because I didn’t know where to purchase them. But, when I saw them a week ago, I had to put them in my cart!
This post is all about introducing new materials to kids. I had to remind myself of this because once I had the water beads, I wanted to experiment with them: I wanted to freeze them, to color them, and to mix them with other sensory materials, like goop. But, I remembered that I needed to curb my own enthusiasm and my own knowledge of the material so that my daughter could explore what a water bead is before we started to experiment with them. I always forgot this step when I was in the classroom: just let water beads be water beads (or, play dough, paint, markers, goop, etc.)! How can a child really appreciate what a new material is capable of if he/she never gets the chance to explore the new material in it’s most basic form?
So, I set up an exploration table for my daughter to play with water beads just as they are. I put out some clear bowls with some measuring cups and spoons. Then, I let my daughter react and explore as we added the water beads to the table.
Do you see that face? She was delighted just at the sight of the water beads. And, what an important experience for her. I think of water beads as being something wonderful to touch, but she reminded me of how beautiful they are! They are reflective, shiny and round – oh, how we would have missed those observations if we would have started coloring them immediately! She kept saying, “This is so exciting!”
She started experimenting with the beads by scooping them with a spoon and transferring them to another bowl. When she dropped them into the bowl, we were both surprised that they bounced! Did you know that water beads bounce? We had no idea and it was yet another discovery of our new material.
She continued to scoop and pour as she watched and touched the water beads. Soon, she added storytelling to her play as she began “baking” the water beads. She announced that she was the head chef and that she was cooking food for me.
The best part about these water beads is that they reminded me to slow down and let my daughter explore new materials that we buy, make, or discover instead of trying to rush ahead to do something unique or exciting with them. This reminded me that discovering a new material is enough because there is learning in everything that we do!
What new material have you brought into your house?