I've read tons of blogs talking about water beads and wish I purchased these little guys earlier. If you are not familiar with water beads they come as tiny balls (look at balls in center of picture below) and after sitting in a bowl of water for a few hours they expand to about the size of a marble.
Watching them grow is pretty cool, but their texture is the best part. They have a smooth and gelatinous texture. I got a ridiculously big bag of them from Amazon for around $13.00. They will last us a lifetime.
The water beads are fun to play with just as they are. Throw them into a bucket or water table and have kids run the beads through their hands. Squishing them is fun too.
I filled an aluminum tray with shaving cream and threw some water beads in.
The girls had fun searching through the cream to find the beads and spooning them out into cups.
This can be turned into a science lesson on dehydration. If you leave the water beads out in the sun they will begin to shrink. When you soak them in water they will grow again.