Water beads or water babies are wonderful for colourful sensory activity. You’ll find these at the gardening section of stores or online. My son and I used to play with these before. Though I always make sure we always got the non-toxic version, it is unsafe for younger kids who are still in mouthing stage. I was trying to find a work around using thai basil seeds or tapioca pearls but found this surprise ingredient (which apparently had been stored in my kitchen for a long time, waiting to be used) more suitable for us.
Sago is commonly used in India and South East Asia. There are desserts and savoury dishes made with this high starch kitchen staple.
It’s fascinating to watch these toothy white balls turn into a translucent pearly finish as they are being cooked. They absorb flavour (and colour, so I have learnt recently) like a sponge.
Click here to learn how to cook sago pearls
How to cook Sago Pearls
- Boil water. A rule of thumb is, you need at least 2 inches of water if the sago pearls will cover the bottom of the pan.
2. Measure and pour Sago pearls in the water.
3. Boil it on high.
4. Stir the mixture every now and then. They’re easy to stick to the pan and get gooey.
5. Once they’re slightly translucent, reduce heat and simmer.
6. When it is ready, rinse in cold water until they’re smooth to touch and not sticky.
7. Drain and get ready to dye them.
Note: If you were to eat Sago pearls, you’ll need them completely translucent before you switch off the heat. You may note that I some of mine are still white in the middle. I took them out earlier because I was only going to use it for one day’s play time and I’d rather have it this way then sticky and gooey.
What you need
- Cooked sago pearls
- Food colouring
- Bowls to mix colours
- Large bin
- Curious little hands
Do it yourself
Divide sago pearls among mixing bowls or jars.
Add a drop of food colouring (or few. I’m using gel food colour so 1 drop is plenty for me).
Mix well and repeat for all the different colours .
Let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Make sure to rinse several times to remove as much excess colour as possible.
Your pearly, edible water beads are now ready to play with.
Go ahead and use them in sensory bins, sensory bottle or just play squishing them on their own.
Note: they kind of stick to themselves when cooked but become smooth and non-sticky when they’re in water.