Colour Experiment With Water Beads

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Working on science experiments with preschoolers is one of my favourite aspects of teaching young kids. It sows seeds of wonder and excitement creating magic and seeing laws of nature unfold in front of your eyes. Preschool kids love learning about colours. There are tons of different ways to teach children the concept of mixing colours to create a new one. We decided to have some fun with water beads and conduct an experiment to see what happens when two different colours mix. If you don’t know what the water beads are, I’ll explain. Water beads are polymer crystal gel balls. When they come in contact with water they absorb it and start to expand.

Water Beads Montessori Nature Blog post

Now, a very important note:

I was tempted to introduce my daughter the water beads a long time ago, but I decided to wait until I was 100% sure she will be safe playing with them and won’t try to swallow water beads. She is 4.5 now and was actively supervised by me when playing with water beads. These should never be around young children and children who like to take things in their mouth. Gel beads are non-toxic and safe for children to touch. However, these water beads are not edible. They should never be swollen since they can expand 200 times their size in child’s tummy. Please, use your best judgment when introducing children to water beads activity to decide if it’s safe to do so. I always kept my eye on my daughter and explained her explicitly that we can’t take these into the mouth.

Here is what we’ve done afterwards:

  • filled up a clear jar of water, poured yellow water beads and left it for 4 hours to absorb water and expand
  • poured water into a bowl and added blue food colouring
  • poured water beads into a bowl with blue coloured water
  • watched the magic happen – once dipped into blue water yellow beads turned green

Water Beads Colour Experiment Montessori Nature
As Blossom was taking them out of the bowl with blue water beads instantly turned yellow. The effect was mind-blowing! I provided her with more tools and an extra dish for transferring beads and have a bit of a free play. She was ecstatic.

water beads montessori nature

This experiment can be done with different colour beads. To get different colours mix..

red + blue = purple

blue + yellow = green

yellow + red = orange

green + orange = brown

There are many different versions of water beads, including edible water beads – Tapioca balls.  These are a much better option for younger children, however, still a choking hazard for babies. Even better – Fun With Kids At Home shared their version of water beads play which is completely safe for babies – Safe Edible Non-Chokable Mini Water Beads

This colour experiment was lots of fun. We will be checking out non-chokable beads with our baby soon too.

  About Anastasia. Anastasia is a former Early Childhood Teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature, a blog about Montessori - inspired and Nature-based explorations. She taught in a Montessori setting for 10 years and has been practicing the Montessori way of learning and living for the last 20 years. She loves designing engaging educational printables for children. Browse Anastasia's educational resources on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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