Sensory play with tapioca pearls

We encountered water beads at the frog-themed session at our local home ed meet up a couple of weeks ago. 

The girls enjoyed them so I thought I would look into getting some for us to try out at home. 

I decided to get tapioca pearls instead in the end as these are edible, just in case the girls decided to give them a taste! It also gave me the flexibility to make them whatever colour we wanted. 

For our first try with these I coloured them in the primary colours; red, yellow and blue. 

I got out our measuring cylinders and then let them explore. They enjoyed mixing them on the plastic trays and then filling up the measuring cylinders with them.

I gave one instruction, “Please keep them on the table”, so you can guess where they ended up! It did mean I had a reason to clean the floor under the table, so that’s a silver lining I guess…

The pearls were sticky compared to the water beads, but adding a bit of water helped with that. I was glad I had put their aprons on though as they didn’t brush off fabric and I had to pick them off my sleeves after I had cleaned the floor! 

If you want to make your own edible water beads, you will need:

  • 150g tapioca pearls
  • 1.2 litres water
  • Gel food colouring
    1. Boil tapioca pearls in the water until they float to the surface; ours took around 8 minutes.
    2. Drain into a sieve and rinse in cold water.
    3. Place into containers and add a small amount of gel food colouring. Mix thoroughly. Leave for 10 minutes to soak up the colour.
    4. Rinse off the excess food colouring with cold water by rinsing the pearls in a sieve.
    5. Transfer to containers or trays. Add a little cold water if the pearls stick together.
    6. Ready, steady, get messy! 

    Update: Despite putting the pearls in the fridge they didn’t last well and were not good the next day, so make them just before you plan to use them.  

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