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Sensory Activities : Edible Water Beads

Sensory Activities : Edible Water Beads
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Sensory Activities : Edible Water Beads

Please supervise the children if you decide to do this activity at home. Edible simply means that the material is not toxic like the aqua beads that are used as vase fillers. This activity is not suitable for babies or kids who still put objects in their mouths.

Water beads or aqua beads are such a fun sensory material. Sensory play activities with water beads as base are sure to be a big hit with the kids. They are smooth, squishy and lend themselves to many wonderful spin offs . Add shaving cream, play under a light table and many more. We did a pond sensory play activity for toddlers with those guys. But  the sad part is they are inedible to say the least – swallowing those little guys leads to severe complications. In order to have a much calmer time while playing with water beads I really wished for a look-alike that was safe even if ingested accidentally. { I would still supervise the kids)

Introducing “water-beads” look-alike BOBA pearls. Sensory activity with water beads look-alike that are safe to eat!  Now that will make it baby and toddler safe.

If you are new to boba pearls, check out this article for more information. They are tapioca balls and are used in a popular Taiwanese drink – bubble tea.

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  1. FYI: The ingredients in the colored pearls are:
    Tapioca Starch, Acetylated Starch, DHA, Sodium Carboxy methlycellulose (CMC), Guar Gum, Sodium Hydrogen Diacetate (SDA), Water, FD&C Yellow #6, FD&C Red #40, FD&C Yellow #5 & FD&C Blue #1

    Even though the FDA considers this edible, I avoid eating and touching these ingredients.

  2. I just did this activity with my 17 month old son and he LOVED IT!!! He enjoyed playing for over an hour! I was really interested in water bead play, but with his young age and a pet at home, I was too afraid. This was a great activity–great for language building (especially since our “theme” for March is Color) and imaginative play, too. I only had 2 colors of gel food coloring and 1 of regular. The gel didn’t “bleed” too much, but the liquid stained our hands quite a bit. For anyone on the fence, I’d go with your recommendation for gel. Thanks for the idea!

  3. very innovative. I tried it just now with sabudana and worked perfect! my 2yr old cant get enought of those colorful beads.
    Thanks. Love your website

    • I don’t want to mislead you so I’m going to say “I’m not sure”. I haven’t tried it with just tapioca. If you are successful with creating with tapioca do come back and let us know. Thanks for reading.

  4. its a great idea! My child is all grown now, but HE GAVE ME the water beads as a Christmas give (non-edible, of course) and the first thing he said to me was “Mom, DON’T EAT THEM!!!”

  5. You can get these in a Chinese supermarket, I found them much cheaper than Amazon. I think I paid about 80p a bag but they weren’t the rainbow ones, we just added our own food colour. Thanks for the brilliant idea.x

  6. Excellent alternative. There definitely needs to be some caution displayed with the water beads that are meant for hydrating flowers and plants. I think the feel and texture naturally makes toddlers and young children want to put them in their mouth, but there can be some serious complications if this happens.

    Glad you did an article on this to give some ideas to parents.

  7. The first thing my 4 year old son said when he looked at the pictures was: can I eat them? They look yummy 🙂 I said no, it is for playing. He insisted, but what happens if I eat them? My answer, I don’t know. I hope that when we make them the sticky feeling will make him doubt of putting them on his mouth. And if he does, they should taste awful (tapioca without sugar has almost no flavor to me) and so he will spit them. They look very attractive!

    • Oh yeah they look really inviting don’t they? They are made of edible substance ( tapioca) But I think it is better to introduce them as a sensory “play” element from the get go. You are right they are tasteless by themselves…May be you can skip the colors and that might make them less attractive haha.

  8. I included this post in our summer bucket list. I had heard about tapioca pearls but have yet to try them. I ordered some last night. Great post and gorgeous photos!

  9. This is a great idea! Just be careful and be sure to supervise your kids. These could easily get lodged in a toddler’s throat. They are big enough where they can get stuck when being swallowed.

  10. I like it, but i’d rather stick with the non-edible kind. It’s more consistent in keeping with the “don’t put things in your mouth.” This would just undermine that lesson. Plus, looks like a choking hazard.

    • Hi, you have a valid point.

      Here is what I was thinking.

      We have still maintained that these beads are not for eating and for play only. The kids do not know these are edible. However I wanted to use a sensory element which will not cause serious issue even if ingested accidentally. During sensory play we watch our kids, still accidents happen. These edible water beads look alike come in very useful at those times..

  11. Another duh moment. Have you tried adding olive oil to keep them apart? Just a tiny bit? This would be good with the dogs too!

  12. These look awesome! We love water beads, but with a toddler around we have to be extra cautious! Maybe I would feel better if we tried these! Thanks!


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