One night, during dinner, my hubby and I were in the middle of a conversation and Big Sis said, “Look, I made a man!” I looked over and saw that she had used her spaghetti noodles to create a stick figure. While I’m not an advocate for playing with your food during meal times, I realized how much fun it would be to play with spaghetti. I looked it up online and realized I wasn’t the first one to come up with this idea, of course, but I knew that we had to try it.
I have had a handful of moms tell me that they wish that they could do creative things with their kids, but they say they’re not creative and that they just don’t know where to start. My goal is to share crafts and activities that you can easily implement in your home with little effort, using mostly materials you probably already have on hand. This totally fits that bill. The best thing about this activity is that it doesn’t take too much effort on your part but it gives a great return for the work you will put into it.
Why make colored spaghetti? First of all it’s fun! It’s squishy and slimy and oh so colorful. The texture really can’t be duplicated, except maybe by worms and really who wants to collect a bunch of worms?!
It provides an excellent source for open ended play. One of my favorite things is to watch Big Sis “work.” As she’s building or creating she often sings random songs she’s making up or she talks to some imaginary person about what she’s doing. She’s so focused and yet so out of this world. I think you’ll find that your kiddos will use the spaghetti in many different ways. One time they may create a picture with the spaghetti, another time they’ll make a road and have cars drive through it, yet another time they may use it to feed their dolls. (this stuff can stain so make sure they are using all stuff that can be washed in a washable area!)
It’s easy clean up and can be used over several days.
It’s perfect for all ages. Big Sis, at almost 4 years, LOVES this stuff, but I just introduced it Little E (5 months old) and she enjoyed squishing it into her chubby hands. Which leads me to my next point…
It’s a great sensory activity which is perfect for developing fine motor skills for babies and toddlers.You can hear it squish, feel the slimy texture, taste it (if you want too, there is a lot of food dye in it so be aware of that), smell it and of course see it.
So many possibilities!!!
Okay, so now you know what and why, let’s get into how…
Inactive Prep Time: 10 minutes
Active Prep Time: 15 minutes
Play Time: Several Days
Clean Up: < 5 minutes
What You’ll Need:
1 lb. Spaghetti
food coloring (gel or regular work, see step 4 below for info)
quart or gallon ziploc bags
something to put the colored spaghetti in
white paper (optional)
- Boil spaghetti according to package directions, cooking for the least amount of time stated.
- Drain and let cool until it’s cool enough to handle
- While spaghetti is cooling, decide how many different colors you’d like to make and get out one ziploc bag for each color.
- To each bag you’ll add 2 tablespoons of water and food coloring. If you’re using gel colors you’ll get a much more vibrant color and you’ll only need 10 drops. If you’re using the regular food coloring, you’ll get a bit less vibrant color and you’ll need 20 drops. (I use the Wilton Neon Gel Food Color and they give off beautiful vibrant colors with only 10 drops of coloring for ever 2 tbsp)
- Divide the spaghetti among your bags. Seal the bag and squish it up until all of the spaghetti is well colored (the kiddos love this part). Now set aside and continue with each bag.
- Once you’ve colored each bag of spaghetti you’ll pour it out into a colander and rinse it with cold water. I like to stick it in between my hands and rub my hands together lightly to get as much excess color off as I can. Keep rinsing until the water coming off of the colander is clear. Repeat with each bag.
- Drain the spaghetti really well by lightly tossing it about in the colander. Place the finished spaghetti in a container.
- Now you’re ready to play!!! You can use a flat table surface or a piece of white cardstock as your base. If your child is hesitant, sit down with them and give them some ideas of how to play with it. Get excited about it. Talk about the colors, how it feels, how it sounds, how it smells. Make a smiley face, spell their name, etc. Play with them for a little bit and then leave them to “work” on their own.
- After we’re done playing I rinse out one of the ziploc bags and put all of the spaghetti in one bag and then put it in the refrigerator. We’ll usually use it for a few days before tossing it out.
Here’s Big Sis’ “fiery sunset”
and here’s a man she made
Did you try this with your kiddo? How’d you guys use it? I’d love to hear all about it!