SAFETY: There were two adults for this activity, one to support him sitting and one to make sure no water beads went near (or in) his mouth. For a taste safe option I would use coloured tapioca beads, but these were already out from his brothers’ dinosaur water bead world and water bead experiment.


  • Hydrated water beads


Cian had never touched water beads before, except through a sensory bag. When he was unsure at each stage he looked up to Daddy for reassurance, then when Liam gave him some encouragement, he relaxed. I’ve included the pictures of his uncertainty to show the difference a caregiver’s reaction can make.

First, Liam let a few beads run down his chest.

When Cian was happy with that, we put his feet in the beads, then poured some from the dish over his legs.

As before, we waited until he was happy with that stage before lying him down. Once again, Cian looked up to Liam, this time grabbing his finger for reassurance as he processed the new sensations. He had a quick kick in the beads, before we dried him off and dressed him again.

DfES Outcomes for EYFS (2013)

Communication and language

Listening and attention (Birth to 11 months)

• Turns towards a familiar sound then locates range of sounds with accuracy.

• Listens to, distinguishes and responds to intonations and sounds of voices.

• Reacts in interaction with others by smiling, looking and moving.

• Quietens or alerts to the sound of speech.


Speaking (Birth to 11 months)

• Makes own sounds in response when talked to by familiar adults.

• Practises and gradually develops speech sounds (babbling) to communicate with adults; says sounds like ‘baba, nono, gogo’.

Physical development

Moving and handling (Birth to 11 months)

• Turns head in response to sounds and sights.

• Makes movements with arms and legs which gradually become more controlled.

Personal, social and emotional development

Self-confidence and self-awareness (Birth to 11 months)

• Laughs and gurgles, e.g. shows pleasure at being tickled and other physical interactions.

• Uses voice, gesture, eye contact and facial expression to make contact with people and keep their attention.

Managing feelings and behaviour (Birth to 11 months)

  • Shows a range of emotions such as pleasure, fear and excitement.

Making relationships (Birth to 11 months)

• Enjoys the company of others and seeks contact with others from birth.

• Responds when talked to, for example, moves arms and legs, changes facial expression, moves body and makes mouth movements.

• Recognises and is most responsive to main carer’s voice: face brightens, activity increases when familiar carer appears.