A NEW Sensory Experience: Tapioca Shreds

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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.

5. Play!
They were warm, wet, squishy, ooey, gooey & slimy! They looked a lot like gummy worms, but have no taste whatsoever. When my son was finished with them for the night, I put them into a plastic bag and threw them into the fridge to keep them from drying out & spoiling quickly. The next morning, they had solidified into a sticky gelatinous mass of tapioca noodles; I quickly remedied the issue by placing the tapioca noodle brick into the colander for a quick rinse under some warm water.

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?


  1. Squishy and slimy? My daughter would love it! lol!

    1. My son loved it! It felt messy, but clean up was relatively painless! Thanks for stopping & enjoy!

  2. They look like gummy worms. My kids would like this!

    1. yes it does look & feel much like wet gummy worms - but it doesn't taste like anything at all! Thanks for stopping by!