Don’t you love the above picture! Aside from the title, this photo required no editing. Dyed spaghetti can be just that colorful and vibrant…and inviting! What little kid, (or let’s be honest, adult) wouldn’t want to put their hands in that tub of wiggly pasta?
I love to incorporate sensory play into my preschool lesson plans. Sensory play has so many benefits! Read my post Let Them Get Messy for more information. I chose to include this sensory bin in my weekly theme called “Little Chefs” where everything we learned was food related. It was a crazy amount of fun!
To make dyed pasta like the above, you simply need some neon food coloring, a little vinegar, and some cooked spaghetti. I used a two-pound package of spaghetti and that was plenty of cooked pasta for my class of nine students. Cook the pasts according to the package directions, drain, and rinse.
While the pasta is cooking, however, prepare your colors for dying. I’ve read posts where you simply put the hot pasta in a zip top baggies with some food coloring, but I opted for a lazier method.
Fill several mixing bowls (one for each color) about 3/4 the way full with cold water. Add several drops of food coloring. I mean about fifteen drops or so. Also add a few tablespoons of vinegar to the water. This helps the food coloring adhere to the spaghetti and keep the food coloring from dying the children’s hands when they play.
When the pasta has finished cooking, carefully strain the water from it, and immediately distribute the cooked spaghetti among the bowls of cold, colored water you have prepared. Allow the pasta to sit in the colored water, much the same way you might dye Easter eggs. The longer the pasta sits the more vibrant the colors will be. While I was waiting I went off to the library and came back about an hour later to find my pasta to be oh so wonderfully bright.
Once your desired color is achieved, drain each color individually and toss with the tiniest bit of oil to keep the strands from sticking together. If you’re really into sensory play, you can also add some essential oils to each color for a wonderful fragrance. My kids love DoTerra’s Orange Bliss the best.
I placed this tub on my back patio, but the pasta stuck to the patio once it dried, so next time I’ll lay out a shower curtain for easier cleanup. Either way, hand the bin over to your child or students and allow for the sensory exploration to begin! I promise they will adore this activity!
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I am Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home mama of five! I am the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught range of levels, including preschool and college, and a little bit of just about everything in between. Right now, my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction