Tapioca Pearls Sensory Play

Tapioca Pearls - Messy Play and Sensory Fun

Tapioca pearls is a super fun, unique sensory play activity and really isn’t too messy at all. I’ve loved the look of this for ages, but only finally got around to actually giving it a go.
The tapioca balls are such a fun sensory material. They’re soft and squishy and sticky and great fun to play with. Master 4 and Miss 2 loved them!

I would recommend doing this activity outside as the sticky tapioca balls can ‘spread’ and are a pain to clean up off the floor.  A pair of Mud Mates to protect your child’s clothing wouldn’t go astray either. Both of my kids ended up with tapioca balls stuck all down the front of their Mud Mates Coveralls!

What you’ll need to make tapioca pearls:

– Tapioca (I fouTapioca Pearls - Sensory Play Activitynd these at our local speciality food shop but you can also purchase them from some supermarkets and Asian supermarkets).
– Food colouring
– Large container or bowl, spoons, smaller bowls, ice cube tray etc.
– Anything else you can think of to use while playing with the tapioca.


Cook the tapioca according to the directions on the pack. (Apparently you can get ‘quick cook’ tapioca which cooks in 5 minutes, but I needed to boil mine for about 30 minutes.)
Drain and rinse under cold water. Cool slightly.
Separate the tapioca into bowls and add several drops of food colouring to each bowl.
Mix thoroughly then leave for 5 minutes for the colour to absorb.
Rinse well under cold water. You’re good to go!

Tapioca Pearls - Sensory Play Activity

I set the kids up with the tapioca pearls in separate bowls, a large container to dump it into, spoons and smaller bowls. Then I let them explore!

They had a blast playing with the sticky balls, mixing them altogether then scooping them out into bowls and ice cube trays. Just let their imagination run free and they’ll have a great time.

After a while we added some water which took away the stickiness and made lots of new ways to play and explore.  The food colouring did start to run a bit and we ended up with a bit of a murky mess…. but it didn’t stop the kids from playing!

Tapioca Pearls - Sensory Play Activity

Once we were finished playing I drained the water off and stored the tapioca pearls in a plastic container in the fridge. The kids played with it again the next day and by then it was looking a bit worse for wear.  I spread the tapioca on a baking tray and left it outside in the sun to dry. We now have some dried beads for a new sensory play activity.

Some things to note:
•    You can also use water beads but I wasn’t too sure where to find these. Plus they’re not safe for consumption which can be a bit of a problem if your littlies are still at the mouthing stage.
•    Although the tapioca is edible, I wouldn’t recommend your children eat too many as there is a lot of food colouring on them. Master 4 and Miss 2 both tried them and were not keen to eat anymore so this shouldn’t be an issue anyway.
•    The food colouring does come off slightly in the water and onto hands. Master 4 and Miss 2 had a bit of a colour on their hands afterwards, but it washed off pretty quickly.
•    The size of the tapioca means they could be a choking hazard for wee ones, so please always supervise your children closely if they are likely to put them in their mouth.

Have you tried this before? Or used water beads before? We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave your comments below.

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