O Water beads, O water beads, how lovely are thy branches?! Ok, those aren’t the words but this fun and easy Christmas activity for preschoolers mashes up my daughter’s two favorite things, water beads and Christmas trees! You can transform your water beads into a beautiful Christmas tree your child will LOVE. They will also be able to decorate the Christmas tree, over and over again without breaking any ornaments and making a huge mess.
Water Bead Play
My kids LOVE water beads. If I am being honest, I love them too. There is something so satisfying about squishing your hand around in the beads, and patting them all down.
Putting together a water bead bin is so easy. Just a few teaspoons of water beads and several cups of water will go a longggg way. I always think a few teaspoons is never enough and add more, and then they plump up and the whole bucket is completely overflowing.
We have always used these kind of water beads, which work out great for the different sensory bins we do. I also love that they come in many different colors, which is important for making our Christmas tree below.
The water beads will hold up for several days. You can always add a little more water if you find them starting to get dry or too goo-ey. BUT before you throw them away, make sure to use them to create this fun and easy water bead Christmas tree.
Christmas Tree Activity
This fun activity is perfect for preschoolers who can identify their colors, and can follow simple instructions. I would not advise this for a young toddler who is still putting objects in their mouth.
Follow the directions on the package to create the water-beads. Typically every teaspoon requires about 2.5 cups of water. Before you get started making the Christmas tree, make sure you give your child ample time playing with the water beads. I love adding these different sensory bin enhancements. Once your child has had their fun of scooping, squishing, and burying their hands, it’s time to make a tree!
Creating The Perfect Christmas Tree
Creating this preschool Christmas activity or craft (is this considered a craft?!) is so easy!
First, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. It’s not imperative that you use the parchment paper, but it will help your tape stick much better, especially if your pan is too oily. The cookie tray will also help contain the water beads if they go out of bounds.
Next, it’s time to “build the tree.” Grab two green pipe cleaners and tape them to the corners of the cookie sheet, and at the top of the triangle. Since the cookie sheet doubles as a magnet, I took our Magnatiles and used a yellow triangle as our star! If you have additional pipe cleaners you can easily transform those into a star instead.
Next, ask your child to find as many green water beads as they can and place them on the inside of the pipe cleaners to start filling in the tree.
This activity is VERY time consuming, which is great. If you want/need to speed things up you can easily help, or have the green beads pre-sorted. You can also have smaller bowls out to sort the “ornaments” or other colored beads.
This activity is great for giving their tiny hands a workout and is also great for improving fine motor skills.
Once the tree is about ⅔ of the way filled, ask them to start adding in the colored beads or “ornaments.” Decorating the tree is the gift that keeps on giving, because your child will love changing the tree up! Moving the red ones to the top, blue to the bottom until they get the tree just the way they would like.
Lastly, fill the “star” with yellow water beads! Your tree is now complete and you can continue to decorate and re-decorate the tree as many times as your heart desires! It’s also fun to run your hands back and forth against the tree.
You could also use additional pipecleaners and mold into squares, creating presents to go next to the tree! Send me your pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org when complete, I would love to feature them on my social media channels. Merry Christmas!