Welcome to my little light table small world sensory play activity, as you can tell I’ve had some trouble naming it.  To actually set this up take less than 5 minutes, although there is some prep required before hand.

Light table frog small world play sensory water beads

First the lily pads – I used pressed nasturtium leaves which we picked and squashed (pressed) last year – Monkey found the whole process interesting although it did take us quite a few more attempts than I was expecting to end up with whole leaves, since they become so much more delicate once pressed. To keep them as perfect as possible I laminated them, because of the shape they are perfect for lily pads. I appreciate that we are only just getting into the flowering season, so if you wanted to do this now you could easily replicate these with green cellophane cut to shape.

Light table frog small world play sensory water beads

I also used water beads to add an extra element. Monkey loves water beads. If you have not come across them before they are traditionally meant for cut flowers to add colour and interest to vases. They start life as tiny little solid balls that absorb water and swell to around marble size. I should also say now that I only introduced Monkey to water beads once he had stopped mouthing everything and he could understand they do not go in his mouth. These are definitely a choking hazard and they are synthetic so would not be good for your little one if they swallowed them! Please be aware of this. Even now I will not leave him unattended with water beads.

IMG_9011Light table frog small world play sensory water beads The water beads need to go into soak in tap water around 12 hours before you need them. I say around as I have done it the night before and used them in the morning which is only about 8 hours. It just means the less time you leave them in the less time they have to soak up the water and grow. In some ways the smaller they are the harder they are so less likely to get crushed by small hands – they are stronger when less saturated. However they are an ideal sensory play material as they are very tactile – even as an adult there is something about them. I would probably describe them as smooth, not slimy to touch, slightly squishy and will bounce and roll if dropped on the floor. They are great in water especially the clear ones as they disappear all together. It is possible to reuse them by letting them dry out completely before storing and then re-soaking them in water the next time you wanted to use them. I buy mine from amazon and the come in a wide variety of colours. I chose some green, blue and clear ones for this purpose of this play scene.

The frogs I used were slightly see through so perfect for the light box and actually part of a jumping frog game. Monkey decided first that we needed to make all the frogs jump off of the table, we had a bit of a race with them. It soon transpired that the reason he wanted the frogs out of the way was because he wanted just to play with the water beads!

IMG_9008 IMG_9018We added some clear pots and he started sorting them into their different colours, after which we combined them into one large pot. It kept him busy for 45 minutes sorting the colours into different pots, mixing them up again and then dividing them up again. He particularly liked the blue ones as its his favourite colour at the moment. We also progressed onto sorting by size. He was very sad when bedtime came around and it was time to leave them until tomorrow.

These are the water beads (affiliate link) which I used: 24 Bags Water Jelly Beads Aqua Gems Bio Gel Balls Crystal Soil Wedding Vase Decoration.

Mudpie xxx

Light table frog small world play sensory water beads



  1. This looks like such a great activity! Mine are a bit too little for it yet, but I’ll definitely take note so I can use it when they are a bit older ?.

  2. Becky, Cuddle Fairy

    The water beads look fantastic! There are so many ways to learn here. Good point about supervising the child while they use the beads too. #BloggerClubUK

  3. Aww what a lovely idea! My boys would probably love this. Especially Hayden who is dependant on sensory activity! I will have to try this out! #bloggerclubUK xx

  4. This looks brilliant! I love lightboxes, I want to make my own for Elsie…I must add it on to my to do list!

  5. This looks great. Forget the kids- I want to play with those water beads. Thanks for hosting #bloggerclubuk x

  6. This is a cool idea, and I know Tyler would love playing with the water beads. He’s into marbles these days too, so I guess these are a softer version. Will look into it! xx

  7. What a fab idea! Thanks for sharing this. There is a light table at one of our local play places and T loves it! I definitely need to get some of those water beads. #bloggerclubuk

  8. This is fab! I love that you used real leaves for the lily pads. We love water beads too, although my Mr 2 would probably tests things in his mouth so can’t risk it with him yet. Love your light table too, I really want one too. 🙂 x #toddlerapprovedtuesday

  9. This looks so cool – and those frogs are fab! I only came across water beads for the first time at the work Christmas party this year. The table decorations were water beads in a bowl and we (a group of 6 adults) were all amazed with them and couldn’t stop touching them. So, clearly it’s not just an activity for kids! 😉 #bloggerclubuk

  10. An imperfect Mum (@animperfectmum)

    I love this idea. Such a great activity. I will share with my nursery colleague I’m sure she’d live it too.

  11. Angela Milnes

    what a brilliant idea. Thanks for sharing and another fantastic activity to add to my children’s activities pinterest board.

  12. mackenzieglanville

    I like the look of those water beads I would want to play with those too #bloggerclubUK

  13. A Moment with Franca

    I love this!! What a great idea and it looks fantastic!! Thanks for hosting, 🙂 xx

  14. The light tables are such a good idea! Love all the ideas you come up with! The waterbeads looks interesting! #BloggerUKClub x

  15. I love this idea.. we have done something similar using tapioca pearls (used in bubble tea – so edible). I hadn’t thought of using a light box to make it such an extra wonderful sensory activity. #BloggerClubUK

  16. Suz (Beau is Blue) (@beauisblue)

    Such a good idea! Always looking for new ideas to do with Elliott. Thanks for sharing! Suz x beauisblue.com

  17. Adventures Of Adam

    I adore this activity. We are huge fans of both light play and water beads. Which light table do you use?

  18. You’re so creative and I love your lightbox ideas. I really want to get one, and I STILL haven’t ordered any water beads! Ray xx #ToddlerApprovedTuesday

  19. Sara Handy Herbs

    What a lovely idea! You are so creative! Great photos too 🙂 #ToddlerApprovedTuesday

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  21. Ok, I adore this! I want to play – so tomorrow I’m going to purchase beads galore and may (???) let my little man play too…maybe?
    Seriously a lovely play set up, I hope you are proud. It’s looks fab x

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  24. Great idea, it looks brilliant! I love the sound of th e water beads but sadly our little one would definitely try to eat them – will have to remember them for when she’s older 🙂

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