Home > Preschool Ideas > Understanding Growth – a toddler science experiment

Understanding Growth – a toddler science experiment

Have you ever tried to explain to a “Why” 2 year old what growing is? Yes we’ve read some books but like all toddlers J is a very kinesthetic learner, he has to be doing it and talking about it to understand what is going on – and also being 2 doesn’t have the patience to wait for stuff to grow as it takes so long.

Toddler science

So here’s our first science experiment looking at growth – and using our favourite new sensory play items – water beads.

What you need to explore growth

A squash bottle (1 litre clear plastic bottle)
A packet of Water beads (our seeds)
Kitchen Timer

How we explored growth

Water beads as seeds
J examining our water bead seeds for our growing experiment

After our planting of seeds last week – we looked at our seeds in our experiment to see what they looked like – and water beads are a really great representation of seeds in their dry form – I didn’t let J touch them out of the packet as they are very small and I was worried about them getting on the floor and the dog or T eating them.

Toddler Science experiment set up
Our kitchen timer and experiment

We then poured them into our bottle and added the water from the tap. J then helped me with our kitchen timer and we set it for 30 mins time and return and have a look. 30 minutes J can deal with and I knew that there would be some change after observing them when we played with them the first time back in February.

Floating and sinking with water beads
J studied how the water beads would float and then sink

After 30mins we returned and the water beads had grown – J was really excited and also decided that they were just like a snow globe and shook and allowed them to settle over and over again. We again looked at the beans after another 30 mins and saw how they had grown each time.

Hands on toddler science
J and T observing the growth experiment hands on

J loved seeing the beads at the different heights in the bottle and seeing how BIG they got. It was great as my background is in science it was so nice to see him getting excited about a real life experiment and asking why questions and being able to talk about growth and how things get bigger and how small he was and how he has grown as well.

exploring growth with water beads
Our results

Rainy Day Dad came home and saw the experiment and asked whether we had been looking as Osmosis – was so proud that he remembered something from his science lessons that he last did… ummmm a few years ago. Here is the bottle the next day I can’t believe how much they grew in the end. J loves them and what’s more at the end of the experiment we had another lot of water beads to add to our play.

Look how they've grown
Water beads fully expanded


  1. This is a neat experiment. Where can I get the water beads? I Googled water beads but only found the beads for vases.

  2. Now there is an experiment with water beads that I actually like – something that contains the little [insert rude word here]

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