Oh Pinterest, what did we do before you? Inspiration. Treatment Ideas. Pretty pictures of delicious meals I’ll never, ever make… Ok, ok, back to business. If you want to take a look at past Pinterest pins I’ve tested in therapy, click here.
This week I stumbled upon a new sensory idea over at the Busy Toddler Blog: Frozen Water Beads.
Let’s face it, I’ve made every slime, putty, and dough mixture out there. In search of something new and exciting, this seemed like an easy way to add a different spin to the proven popularity of water beads.
The idea is beyond simple. In fact, here’s the directions:
1. Freeze water beads.
Yep. That’s it. How could you mess that up? Oh, funny you should ask. Remember, I’m here to make the mistakes so you don’t have to. Learn from my tragedies, everyone!
For example: Don’t freeze the water beads inside a water bottle. Bad idea. Oh, and don’t leave it to freeze overnight. Super bad idea.
I managed to create a solid brick of water beads trapped by the unforgiving and ridiculously small opening of a water bottle. When they finally emerged, I was greeted by what I can safely describe as water bead sludge. (It sort of resembled the blue goo that comes in a reusable ice pack.)
But hey, I’m an OT, I would never scoff at the opportunity to play with sludge. Talk about mixed, inconsistent texture experiences! Oh, and it’s cold!
Here are the results of the first round of poor water bead torture:
For the second round, I was able to freeze the water beads in a wider jar, and only for an hour or so. They came out in a much more usable/recognizable state:
So how did it go in therapy? It was a big hit! I’m a fan of incorporating temperature changes in order to impact the type of input the child is receiving. I also say it’s a more challenging tactile experience overall due to the fact that the beads don’t hold their shape as well and crumple a bit more than when they aren’t frozen. This causes a more unpredictable mixed consistency when the children are playing.
The water beads also seemed to be even more fun to squish when frozen, which allowed the children to work on pinch and finger isolation. Their little hands were eager to work hard to excavate the beads from the ice chunks, which was a great way to work on dexterity and strength. We also used the beads to hide pegs or pony beads for the children to fish out, and practiced scooping and using utensils to fill smaller containers.
Plus, BONUS, the water beads don’t seem to bounce around the entire room quite as uncontrollably when in this state! (I’ve experienced my fair share of water bead explosion regret…) Overall, a fun activity that can incorporate many different therapy goals.