Tapioca pearls sensory play

Hello, my name is Heather and I have a problem...

I have been addicted to water bead orbeez for a long time now. I can't get enough of the slippery balls of squishy fun, scooping, pouring and immersing my hands into the good stuff!

I used to dream of filling huge tubs of them for the gang to enjoy at Li'l Crafters sessions but I never felt comfortable using them in case anyone ate them (what are they even made of?!).

So one day, as my kids sucked down their favourite boba tea, it came to me! Tapioca pearls! Totally safe for kids if they accidentally ate some, awesome texture, gooey goodness and they are cheap and easy to hunt down in your local supermarket or Asian grocer.

What you'll need:

  • Tapioca pearls (coloured or white)

  • A big pot for boiling the pearls in

  • A strainer

  • Food colouring if you want to colour the white pearls


  • Bring water to boil in a deep pot and add the dry tapioca straight from the packet (do not rinse). Bring it to a boil again, cover, and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook covered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat, keep the pot covered, and allow to sit for another 15 minutes.

  • The pearls should be floating and looking translucent.

  • Drain the tapioca pearls and rinse under cold water.

  • If the tapioca pearls still have opaque white centres, repeat STEP 1 and STEP 2 until all the pearls are fully translucent. You may have to repeat a few times depending on their size.

  • Once the tapioca pearls are cooked, drain and rinse under cold water one more time. Add your food colour and stir through until the balls are all coloured.

  • Leave the pearls for about 10 mins to absorb the colour and then rinse in a strainer under cold running water. This will get rid of excess food colour.

And that's the process! Easy, right?

Now for the fun ... I like to put the pearls into plastic tubs with a little bit of water to keep them from sticking together. Add scoops, tubs, funnels etc for play.

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