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  1. I feel like some commenters worrying about children under three choking on these may not be familiar with tapioca pearls, and/or may in fact think these are just another type of “water bead.”

    Tapioca pearls are food. When cooked they are soft and squishy and a bit slimy. They can be chewed before being swallowed, but sometimes when used in bubble teas, mine go right down with the drink. They are small and slippery. And when they are done growing, they are done growing.

    Actual water beads may continue to grow when eaten because they encounter new water sources. This makes them not only the obvious choking hazard, but also a bowel obstruction hazard, an ear hazard, a sinus hazard (depending on what size the beads are when the child decides to place them somewhere in their body.)

    Tapioca doesn’t do that. If your child can not eat a piece of bread yet, avoid this for now. But if they are managing bread (which turns dense, spongy and slimy in the mouth), they should be able to manage tapioca pearls.

    1. Angela Thayer says:

      Thank you for explaining this so well! I completely agree!

  2. Never saw these b4. They are so cool. Can you put them in plants? What about using as iced balls if frozen? The barley ones? How do you use them in crafting?

    1. Angela Thayer says:

      These are tapioca pearls, so they are technically food. I haven’t tried freezing them, but that might work! I would not recommend putting them in plants or using them for crafting.

  3. thank you so much for that idea

  4. I understand the water beads are NOT to be thrown down the sink as they swell and cause plumbing problems. I would really caution their use with toddlers or other kids that might want to experiment tasting them. They would swell in them also I would think? It’s such an awesome tactile activity I just can’t justify it.
    Correct me if I’m wrong. The tapioca beads is the only way I would go.

    1. Angela Thayer says:

      Yes, I agree that using the tapioca beads is the best way. I know that water beads swell, but they do stop growing at a certain point. If there are children playing with them and there’s any chance they would put something in their mouths, then I would use tapioca pearls. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Great site, love the content. My kids love to play with these, thanks for sharing.

  6. I am buying for a couple of children I watch daily through the week. I thought this would be a great unit on colors and textures and such. How cost-efficient is this activity? I hate to create some ideas if these are going to be expensive to make. Do they last for possibly 4-5 days? Thank you btw for posting the fun that your little one had! And for posting the instructions! Have a blessed day!

    1. Angela Thayer says:

      That is a fun idea! Well, the tapioca beads cost $5 a bag. I would recommend getting a couple bags if you have several children exploring them. You also need food coloring. I used gel food coloring, which is more expensive. We just used the beads for 1 day because they started to lose their shape. So I’m not sure if they would last 4-5 days. If you kept them in water, they probably would. Sorry I’m not much help!

  7. Shannon Striner says:

    Quick question….if you don’t buy the five minute ones, how do the instructions change? Do I need to cook them longer. I started cooking them and they are not expanding. I just don’t want them to become too mushy by overdoing it. Thanks! I can’t wait to try this with my 19 month old.

    1. Angela Thayer says:

      Oh I so wish I knew the answer to this question! I have not tried it without the 5 minute ones. I’m so sorry! I would guess you would just cook them according to the package. Let me know if it turned out for you. Thanks!

  8. What do you do if the beads start to smell?

    1. Angela Thayer says:

      Hmm..Did they smell right away? Or after a while? If they smell after a while, I would say they are old. They don’t seem to last too long.

  9. I’ve been thinking about using your idea for quite a while now. Love the idea of water beads but I have two toddlers (2.5 and 1.5) and the beads didn’t sound like a good idea. It’s been nice outside, so I finally made up a batch of tapioca pearls. I bought them at a bulk store and they’re not the 5 minute ones, so that was disappointing I did put the dye in the water and I didn’t end up with any color bleeding problems.

    To the commenter who asked about the pearls being a choking hazard- my kids had no problem eating them and squishing them between their fingers. In fact, they were hard to pick up because they were so soft. They would even be fun for a high chair bound baby to play with for a while (without the dye, of course).

    I think the pearls would be a good for pretend frog eggs (or fish eggs) in a life cycle study.

    Thanks for the idea! I linked to your site on my new blog-

    1. Angela Thayer says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience!! It is hard to describe unless you make them yourselves. I agree that they are so soft that it would be fun for a baby in a high chair. And love the idea of frog eggs! Thanks again for taking time to share. ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. Angela Thayer says:

      Thanks for your concern. These water beads are very soft and and squishy (since it is a Tapioca pearl), so if a toddler tried to eat them, I do not think it would not get caught in their throat. They would be able to swallow it because it is so soft and mushy. But if you are concerned about this, then I would wait until the child is older and does not put things in their mouths.

      1. I too am concerned about this. The tapioca pearls say not to be consumed by children under 3 and iam wondering why? Choking? Maybe. Iโ€™m going to try them anyway. But definitly concerns me.

        1. Angela Thayer says:

          I have not heard of that warning. Like you said, maybe it’s a choking hazard for kids who aren’t able to chew foods yet? We had no problem with them and they were soft and squishy. I would just stay right next to your child and monitor them while they play.

  11. Becky Murillo says:

    I think that these could be colored if they were boiled in colored water eliminating the coloring step. it would mean using a few different small pots but it is one step less and i think that the food color would be less likely to rub off. I am definitely going to try this one and will let you know how it turns out.

  12. Elisabeth says:

    Love this! I miss my “bubble tea” drinks now that I live in New Zealand–back home in California they were easier to find! But I could probably buy them here, and this does look fun. I caved and bought food dye today to use in play dough, but don’t even like using it in things that my kids will be playing with–even if they don’t end up eating it, it can be absorbed through their skin. Wish there were a safer alternative! Thanks for the fun idea!

    1. Ashley Austin says:

      Instead of food dye you can try kool aid powder in your play dough to colour it, plus it makes it smell great too!

  13. If you have an Asian market around they often have very large bags of tapioca for cheap. It may not be the quick cook kind though.

    1. Angela Thayer says:

      Thanks, Amy! Hope you are doing well, too!

  14. This looks like fun – but I have no idea what tapioca pearls are! Where would you find them in the grocery store?

    1. Susan Stewart says:

      The tapioca pearls should be in the isle with the jello. I know at Publix anyway. Hope I have helped you.

  15. I love this idea!! We have so much fun with the Orbees, but it was always my concern that they would get eaten (and truth be told, one or two did,,possibly more when my back was turned in the kitchen). I feel much better about the tapioca pearls and will try them soon. My kiddos are going to love this!! Smart lady!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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