The summer my little one was 3 was all about sensory play. I decided to take those water beads and put them to a “school” use. I wanted to introduce the concept of sorting and multiplying. I really enjoyed this manipulative but sadly, it got thrown away by accident. I hope to make it again when my youngest is not eating everything, edible or not. Perhaps, I can find solid colored marbles?
My logic is that children learn math vertically. I have never liked the horizontal abacus. We are currently taking my Ikea abacus and making it vertical. That is another post. This water bead manipulative helps teach my child that 10 beads is more than 1. 10 fills up the tube while 1 barely does anything. Children instinctively understand that a full cup has more than a partially filled cup. Why not play off of that instinct?
I took an oatmeal box and opened it. I painted the inside white then lined with clear contact paper for durability. I bought clear tubing from the hardware store, heated in the sink and molded straight, then assembled with yarn. Then, using our water beads which was a color mixing lesson the day before, we sat down to play. She played with this (and in the others sitting in the tub) for hours. To release the beads, you simply need to lift the tube and they spill out the bottom.