It's no secret, I love sensory play - both in my preschool classroom & at home with my own child! I'm constantly experimenting with sensory play ideas & always keeping my eyes open for the next great (insert ooey, gooey, squishy, wet and/or fun word here) sensory experience for my kids... From time to time, I've even been known to fall down a virtual black-hole & Pin hundreds of sensory play ideas in a single evening... (see my sensory play board here).
Getting on the the main event, yesterday, after an amazing lunch at a nearby Korean cafeteria, we went shopping at the Asian grocery store next door. We only went in for a few items, but somehow I managed to leave the store with these fun Multi-Color Tapioca Shreds:
I've seen hundreds of blog posts about tapioca pearl sensory play and actually entered this aisle of the store to purchase a few bags of tapioca pearls for a classroom bin next week. Instead, I discovered the Tapioca 'Squiggles' right next to the pearls. They were multicolored & about $1.00 a bag (7 oz/200g) - perfect!
I hid a few bags under the other items in my cart - which turned out to be a weak attempt at avoiding my husband's questions; he quickly spotted the new addition to the cart & gave me a bit of a hard time about buying yet another item for my classroom - I quickly assured him that our child would also be playing with them and he let it go! I also thew these Training Chopsticks into our cart!
Since pretty much everything on the bag is written in Vietnamese, I did a quick internet search to figure out how to cook the strange little squiggles. My search didn't turn up many great directions, other than 'cook until soft' & a few recipes for some coconut tapioca desserts (which I imagine might be tasty if you like the texture of tapioca). So here's basically what I ended up doing:
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil & add tapioca shreds.
2. Boil for 15-17 minutes, stirring frequently. (I tested them by tasting them - if you can't chew them, they're not ready!)
3. Drain & rinse with cool water.
4. Pour into container for play & add a few drops of oil - I used olive oil.
I placed a towel under the tray to catch any rogue tapioca shreds from becoming stuck to my furniture. As a warning, we did discover that a wet a tapioca noodle dries rock hard, sharp & very stuck to whatever surface it was left on... So clean up well, before anything dries! And, a dry tapioca shred cannot be put down the garbage disposal - we learned this the hard way!
I'm still unsure how long they'll last - we've used them twice & have rinsed them a few times. I was thinking that I'd add a few drops of lavender or tea tree essential oil to perhaps slow the growth of bacteria in our classroom sensory bin - to hopefully get 2-3 sessions at the sensory bin before they need to be trashed.
Anyone have ideas for maximizing the use of wet, squishy, sticky sensory bin fillers for classroom use?