Whilst sorting through these photographs before I send them off to the publisher, I thought I would do a quick post to see if you had discovered this stuff.
It is called Tapioca Pearls or Bubble Tea. It is basically like giant tapioca. You boil the contents of the packet in a pan and they swell up to make these large tapioca balls.
On the packet it suggests that you can eat them hot or cold and add them to milky tea, soup, coffee or jelly. None of those options fill me with the desire to try them out!
(amendment to post – Sandra found the following link regarding Tapioca Pearls saying that they had ingredients that may cause cancer http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/05/bubble-tea-tapioca-pearls-may-cause-cancer-study-claims_n_1856152.html#slide=more225946. Through some further research I have found other articles that say that the Tapioca Pearls are perfectly safe and the original report is unfounded. It is just good to be aware)
They are great to look at and touch when they are uncooked and hard an then again when they have been cooked when they are soft, squidgy and slippery.
Not only are they something different for the children to handle to encourage talk and language development, they are perfect for your malleable materials area as they will 'roll' under children's palms, allowing them to use large arm movements. They can also be used to develop pincer grip.
Have a go at using match sticks to stick into them when they are cooked to join several together and create a bit of small scale, fine motor construction.
They come in various flavours and colours. Beware, they get very sticky and slimy when they are cold. Some children (and staff) will love the texture. Others might not be as keen!
Of course they are small and round and a perfect size for popping in your mouth or up your nose, so younger children should be supervised whilst using them.
Amy left me a comment on this blog post that I thought it was worth adding to the main post.
These are super simple to make yourself. Just buy tapioca starch/flour (I got some for 55p from a Chinese supermarket) Add boiling water to the flour until them combine to make a dough. Roll the dough into little balls/pearls. Leave the pearls to dry out a bit for 2-3 hours and then boil them for 15 mins or so. If you make them yourself you can make loads! Add different coloured food colouring and then you have a great sorting activity too!
Enjoy having a play