Thursday, 9 February 2012

Water Play & Sensory Play: Gel Beads Fish Tank

With our plastic underbed storage box filled with water, gel beads and toy fish, we had some sensory fun swishing and swirling and playing with water.  

I've seen gel beads for sensory play being used quite a lot recently, so thought we'd have a go too.  We had blue and green ones which came from the 99p store.  As the beads are not really toys, this was something I did just with Little Chick as she is old enough to understand these things.  We did it whilst Shoeshine was having her nap as she's not quite old enough to be trusted not to put them in her mouth!  

Little Chick just loved adding all the bits and pieces to the tub and asking for more water and swirling everything around.

We had fun making waves seeing what happened to the gel beads and fish as the waves went back and forth across the tub.  The gels beads are great at illustrating wave formation and movement as they move fluidly, I reckon they would be great to use with older kids helping to explain waves or how molecules move in liquid states and what happens on heating etc, but Little Chick's a bit young for some of that at the moment so we focused on playing with making waves and just watching what happened.

She also went and fetched some of her straws (a favourite toy at the moment, apparently you can make it snow in the house with a packet of straws!)  She was loving blowing bubbles, I had to swim a fish near to her and then she would start blowing bubbles and I would swim the fish away with lots of oohs, ahhs and oh no's much to her delight and then she would say "again, again," amid fits of giggles.

We also did some experimenting with our straw blowing and found that if you blow closer to the surface the bubble noise is higher pitched and when you blow closer to the bottom of the tank the bubble noise is lower pitched.  The bubble blowing also produced beautiful circular radiating ripples.  Again lots of scientific things to learn and discuss in more depth if you were doing this with older children.

We also played with the gel beads out of the water and found them to be quite bouncy.

Little Chick also requested some boats, so out came a few empty cream cheese tubs.

And we had fun adding fish to the boat until it sank.  Great for counting practice and learning about floating and sinking.

This was lots of fun to play together, with loads of scope for early science learning too.  The gel beads added a lovely sensory element for sloshing and swishing around in the water, although the ones we had weren't very robust and several broke, so I don't know if we just didn't get very good ones or if they are just fairly delicate.  Having said that their gel consistency was a lot of fun and they are still good enough to be played with again sometime.  Am also planning to do a water fish tank without the gel beads for Shoeshine sometime soon, so she doesn't miss out on some fun water play.


  1. What a FUN filled activity! I'd love it if you would share this with my readers for Fun Stuff Fridays. Would you please link up?

    1. Ooh we love linky parties, thanks for the invite. See you there. Ellie


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