It is not out of the norm to see a special education teacher utilizing sensory integration techniques in the classroom. When our students become overstimulated or overwhelmed by the things going on around them (ie. the environment), they may begin to experience a meltdown.
Part of our job is to help each student learn how to appropriately respond within and to his or her environment.
To help with sensory input and output of each of our students, we try many different things. Fidgets, sensory breaks throughout the day... and in my classroom we have 30 minutes of pure Motor Lab each day.
I only discovered water beads last school year, but I instantly fell in love with them. I found myself sitting at the center, sifting my hands through the beads and realizing how calming it was. Just the other week I saw a foot massage kit in the kid's section at a store that had water beads in it. They're everywhere now, and it's so cool.
But in all honesty, there are some really great things you can do with water beads in the classroom... and then there are some things I have tried and not been successful with at all.
You can create so many different sensory output bins and containers for your students using water beads.
2. Science Experiments
There are a couple of different experiments you can try with water beads.
Using an empty water bottle and some expanded water beads, students can practice their fine motor skills by putting water beads inside of the empty bottle.
Now that you're all in for stocking up on water beads for your classroom, let me just tell you a few things to expect not to be able to do with your new favorite toys.
I mean, you can. You can freeze water beads... and they freeze up just like ice cubes. I tried this experiment thinking if they froze, it would make for a great cold sensory station.
I shared this experiment on my Instagram Story a few weeks ago... over the course of about 2 weeks.
3. Keep them forever.
Saving the best advice for last... and let me be so honest with you. These babies S-T-I-N-K after awhile. Seriously. Stagnant sewer water stink. YUCKO 1.
Image all of the germs on our hands and our little friends' hands. The water beads are like a huge cesspool in a science lab just soaking up the germs. YUCKO 2.
Now I have tried essential oils, using special water, and steered clear of using bleach to clean them (not safe at all for anyone!)... and about every 2 weeks, I found myself dumping them out and creating a new batch.