Fine Motor Activity-Water Beads

Water Bead Transfer: Fine Motor Activity

Materials Needed:

  • Handy Scooper, spoons, large tweezers etc.
  • Multiple bins, cups or containers for scooping
  • Water beads (follow directions on the bag)


Water Beads or “orbits” as I have heard them called are small, spherical, jelly-like beads which have endless uses in the early childhood classroom. I came across water beads when I was working with students with autism. I put the water beads into plastic bottles which I called “sensory bottles” for students to look at, shake, and watch as the beads move around in the bottle. Students marveled at the way the orbits danced around the plastic bottle.

I wanted to show a fine motor activity you can do in class if you are fairly certain your students will not put the orbies in their mouth. They are very colorful and look like candy so be careful with students who tend to “mouth” objects…



  • If you have time, allow students to “make” the water beads. They start as very small balls and over time (6-10 hours) absorb the water and can become large. Allowing students to be part of this process can encourage them to follow directions, learn to wait and watch the slowly growing and seemingly magic process of the water beads puff up.
  • Once you have the water beads at the size you would like them, (the longer you keep them in the water the bigger they get). Find a container to store them in. A container with a lid will help them stay the same size for weeks.
  • Provide multiple scooping items for students to use to scoop and transfer the beads from one container to the next. Provide multiple cups, containers and bowls for transferring the water beads.
  • Once students become more adept at using the handy scoopers, have them sort the beads into containers based on color.
  • Encourage students to touch the beads with their hands as an added sensory experience. Many students instinctually want to crush or squeeze them with their fingers and the bouncing effect makes any student want to throw them across the room.

This activity is considered a fine motor activity because it encourages students to use their hands or a tool such as the handy scooper to transfer water beads from one container to another. This activity builds hand strength and coordination and is simply a lot of fun!

Here are some links where you can get water beads and handy scoopers:

Handy Scoopers:

Water Beads:



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