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Edible water beads sensory activity


It’s no secret that children just love sensory play. Especially the wet, messy, squishy sort of sensory play. The messier, the better! I’ve been very keen on getting some water beads for sensory play. However with babies around, I knew it wouldn’t be a good idea just yet.

Thanks to the wonders of Pinterest, I found the perfect alternative using this yummy ingredient: Tapioca pearls (used in making bubble tea) which you can get at any oriental supermarket.

Anyway, instead of just pre-cooking the pearls for the activity, I decided to involve the kids in the whole process from the start. First I opened the package and poured the pearls out into a large bowl and let the children investigate and explore it with their hands and fingers. We talked about how the pearls felt and looked.

Then I poured the pearls into a pot of boiling water to cook for five minutes. While they were cooking, the kids helped to set up the table with a variety of bowls, cups, containers and spoons.

After the tapioca pearls were cooked. This is what they looked like…


The children were more than happy to play and explore the pearls as they were. But I decided to add a boost of colour to them with a few drops of food colouring.


The kids dove right into the stuff eagerly. They spent ages pouring and scooping the little tapioca pearls into different containers, and mixing and stirring them together.


They squished and smooshed them with their hands and laughed at the slippery texture. We talked about how the tapioca pearls felt now and how different they felt compared to before they were cooked.


After that Nathan asked if he could try one to see what it tasted like. I gave the okay and he immediately popped one into his mouth. He grinned at the squishy and chewy texture. The other kids soon followed suit and were popping them into their mouths one after another like candy.

The tapioca pearls actually taste very bland (no sugar or sweeteners in them) so I was surprised at how much the kids seemed to enjoy eating them. I eventually had to put a stop to it so as not to spoil their appetites for lunch.


Even the babies got into the action too after they had woken up from their morning nap. They squished and smooshed the stuff to their heart’s content and tasted it too of course (no drama about that since the stuff is completely edible).


If you’re looking for something fun and different to do with your kids, I definitely recommend giving this a go. It’s cheap, easy and really engaging.


Edible Water Beads Sensory Activity

Tapioca Pearls (available at oriental supermarkets for just around $2.00 a pack)
Food colouring (optional)

Cook the pearls according to package instructions. Ours simply required cooking in boiling water for five minutes until the pearls floated to the surface. But check your package instructions to see if they vary.

Pour the cooked pearls into a colander to drain and run them under cold water for a few seconds to stop the cooking process and cool them down.

At this point the pearls are ready to be played with as they are.

If you like, you can add a boost of colour to make them more colourful. I just divided the pearls into different bowls (one for each colour) and poured some water and a few drops of food colouring in each bowl. I let them sit for 5-10 minutes to absorb the colour, then ran them under cold water again to rinse off the excess colouring.

I recommend adding a bit of water to the pearls during play to keep them moist and avoid the pearls from drying out and sticking to each other

I kept the pearls in a covered container in the fridge overnight and they were still good for another play the next day. I would say the max they would last is three days after which they would probably be too smooshy to handle.

>>More ideas for learning and play


Linking up to Jess’s for IBOT


  1. What a great idea! Wish I'd thought of doing this when my kids were small. One to file away until I have grandkiddies!

    Visiting today from #teamIBOT xxx

    1. Hi Janet! I'm sure you did a whole bunch of different things with them at that time. There's also a lot more resources and information exchanges going on these days. And yes, there's always the grandkiddies to look forward to someday... but things might be a while new level by then!

  2. That's awesome, we have an oriental shop near us - the boys would adore doing this and isn't much work for their lazy mumma!!

    1. An oriental shop around the corner... wow! I wish I had that. It IS really easy and I'm sure your boys will like it. Very little work involved... though it depends on the level of mess your boys are capable of which may impact the clean up time!

  3. Hey Serene!!! I have been hearing all about the cool stuff you have been doing with the kiddies!!! Well done - :)) You are so creative! Thanks for this idea - I am always looking for things to do with Daniel!! :)

    1. Hi Liz! Thanks so much for popping over to say hi. Really makes my day! I'm sure Daniel loves spending time with you no matter what you do. But this one will definitely make you a superstar in his books!

  4. Very cool! Thanks for sharing. visiting from ibot


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