Home Sensory bins Sensory Activities : Edible Water Beads

Sensory Activities : Edible Water Beads

Sensory Activities : Edible Water Beads
Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Boba pearls are available easily online on Amazon. Here is an affiliate link to the rainbow boba pearls to buy it from Amazon.

I went for the rainbow boba but they come in many colors. Make sure you get the 5 minute boba for a quick recipe.

boba pearls uncooked

Then I followed the directions and cooked the pearls. For 1/2 cup of pearls add 5 cups of water and boil them until they start to become tender.

cooking boba

Cover and simmer for 3-4 more minutes and you should get these pearls. Truly they cooked with 5 minutes.

Well Cooked beads

The colors are bright by themselves but for an extra fun sensory activity I wanted even  brighter colors. So food colors to the rescue. I added a drop of gel food color and made a batch of rainbow boba pearls. A colorful sensory activity! We are always partial to gel food coloring for their vibrant colors.

Coloring with food color

My rainbow line up of beads for a fun sensory activity.

colorful tapioca pearls

I let the boba pearls sit for about half an hour until the color is absorbed and sets in.


Now time to play with this SAFE  sensory element.The only think you need to remember is while these tapioca balls are fun by themselves they are sticky and attach to each other. That’s a different kind of fun.

Multi-color tapioca pearl

But if you are looking for  fun all you need to do is add these beads to a shallow tub of water and the kids are on their way to an extra FUN sensory activity. Since we just used food color to dye the pearls, you will see a small amount of color run into the water. But the kids were having too  much fun with these  SAFE beads. Add your favorite toys or simply play with your hands!

adding water to pearls for play

playing in water with boba pearls

toddlers can play

colorful tapiocapearls in water

Notes: They will keep for 2-3 days at the maximum. Store water beads with only with a bit of water. Too much water will muddy out the colors and too little will dry them out.

Thanks for reading

Fizz, Pop, Bang! Playful Science and Math Activities – a collection of simple ideas in our ebook!

Buy Now


  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!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here