w is for water beads


i need input:  
keep using these or not?
they are all over the internet.
can be bought in the floral department.
hard little beads that you hydrate in water for several hours.
they are labeled non-toxic but not intended for human consumption.

they are cool indeed.
slippery and colorful.
a great sensory experience.

i can’t help but wonder about the plastic/chemicals.
i’ve looked for cautionary advice,
but other than choking, i don’t see any.

what say you all?



20 thoughts on “w is for water beads

  1. I have used these in my classroom for “frog eggs” when we were learning about animals. The thing the children liked the most was that they bounced!


  2. I am not sure if the jelly balls are the same thing I once saw on a news story but children who accidentally inhaled these “jelly balls’ or similar substance choked to death. The jelly is made with an ingredient that swells and there is no way to remove it from the airway once it gets in there as it continues to swell. Please do not quote me on this. I am not sure what the ingredient or product was but it was my first thought when I saw people suggesting them.


    1. Hi there, The jelly balls that were on the news were actual mini jello cups the kids would would suck out. The choking hazard was that they could be sucked right into the throat and obstruct the airway.


  3. I think the real hazard would be if a child found some that weren’t hydrated and consumed them. It would probably cause a major obstruction once they began to hydrate. We have some and sometimes I do wonder if it’s like letting him play with chemical soup. I cloth diapered him to keep these things off his skin and then let him play with them after he’s out of diapers, haha.


  4. to be honest, even that plastic bin that they are in has toxicity hazards when handled by children, but does that mean we take it out of the classroom? as much as I want to be a perfectly green classroom teacher, that just ain’t gonna happen : )

    by the way, using those on a light table is an awesome idea.


  5. As long as the kids do not eat them, it’s fine I guess.
    I agree with the jelly in Asian stores. Here we can find many shapes (eggs, animals, flowers) of those jelly and it’s tasty (made up of sago, milk, and some other ingredients). We make them into ice jelly :) you can put them inside your ice syrup, lemonade, or soda drink, or tea.


  6. Great idea . . . my own kids saw them in a floral store and at a wedding this summer; they couldn’t keep their hands off of them. Never thought of them in the classroom. Love the idea; I think with monitoring you are fine.
    Saw you linked me to your site; thanks! :))


  7. Another excellent sensory experience is to use saw dust – mix in whatever prizes you want to give away and let the kids try to find them. When we did this at a church campout, the adults had as much fun as the kids. We were searching for coins; not at easy to find as you might think!


  8. These are made from a polymer similar to that found in diapers, if you check out Steve Spangler science, he has many activities and variations, including giant ones and cubes. I have used them with 3-4’s for several years without any incident. They are non toxic, and like any small objects, used with care around those still putting things in their mouth. I would not be concerned..


  9. I say KEEP! they are such an awesome sensory experience. since they are non toxic, you should be fine with supervision! yay for sensory exploration! :)


  10. I think they are great. Perhaps with close supervision the risk factor would be less. Did you make the light table? Love your creative classroom.
    Marie in Florida


  11. for a similar sensory experience that is edible, go to your local Asian food store and pick up a bag of jelly balls intended for ‘bubble milk tea’ they needed to be soaked in boiling water for a bit and usually come in black or a rainbow bag. Also available in cubes, but dissolve too easily. they’re made of sago or something not hugely tasty, just plain. so they kids may eat them, but not devour them like they would real jelly :)


    1. ha! that’s a great idea, because i’ve noticed that these look exactly like the little juice filled jelly balls available as a topping at our local frozen yogurt place. yikes!



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