Colour Experiment With Water Beads

Working on science experiments with preschoolers is one of my favorite 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 colors. There are tons of different ways to teach children the concept of mixing colors 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 colors 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.

waterbeads color experiment science hands on activity montessori nature (4)

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 would be safe playing with them and wouldn’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 mouths. 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 a 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 to her explicitly that we can’t take these into the mouth.

Here is what we’ve done afterward:

Animals and their homes montessori nature sort matching free printables sign up
  • 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 coloring
  • poured water beads into a bowl with blue-coloured water
  • watched the magic happen – once dipped into blue water yellow beads turned green
child pouring beads into bowl

As Blossom was taking them out of the bowl 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 having a bit of free play. She was ecstatic.

child scooping beads from one bowl

This experiment can be done with different color beads. To get different colors mixed..

red + blue = purple

blue + yellow = green

yellow + red = orange

green + orange = brown

There are many different versions of water beads, including edible water beads and 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 color experiment was lots of fun. We will be checking out non-choke beads with our baby soon too.

you might find our sensorial printables helpful in your classroom

About Anastasia - Anastasia is an early childhood teacher and the founder of Montessori Nature - a blog about Montessori living and learning and nature-based explorations. With many years of experience working in a Montessori environment and homeschooling her children, she directed her passion for all things Montessori and nature into creating educational resources. You can learn more here and browse her printables on Teachers Pay Teachers.