In part one of this DIY, I shared my top secret home recipe for colored pasta. I hope you enjoyed it. This time around, I’m going to share three of our favorite colored pasta activities:
- Colored Pasta Sensory Tub
- Pasta Beading
- “Old Skool” Macaroni Art
- Colored pasta (plain pasta is fine too, but coloring is fun and easy to do!)
- Plastic dish pan or shoe box
Colored Pasta Sensory Tub
If pasta begs to be played with when it’s plain, then colored pasta begs even more so. And, if your kiddo is anything like my Little Miss, you’re going to need to scratch that itch before you can settle down to make any kind of pasta art. So, before you get out any other art supplies, I want you to take all that colored pasta you just made and dump it into a tub. You can use a plastic dish pan, old shoe box, pot, whatever. Then, invite your kid over and let him or her dig!
Just like when you made the pasta, this is a great time to work on sensory vocabulary. As you child digs in the pasta, ask him questions about how the pasta feels, what she likes best about the pasta, what he dislikes… (for a list of some starter questions, you can check back on the first part of this post).
- And, if you used different colors/types of pasta, this can be a great time for some basic sorting, counting, and patterning activities:
- Ask your child to find all the pasta pieces in one shape or color (you can add basic counting to this exercise by asking for a certain number of pieces in a given shape or color).
- Select a piece of pasta and ask your child to find a match.
- Lay down several pieces of pasta in a repeating pattern (for example, red-blue, red-blue). Then, ask your child to guess what comes next.
Beading is a fine motor favorite for occupational therapists everywhere. It helps kids work on the pincer grasp and bilateral coordination, teaches how to use tools, and inspires patience. You can string many different kinds of pasta, but the easiest to work with is a nice, fat rigatoni.
Depending on the age level and skills of the child you are working with, you can set up the string in a couple of different ways. We chose to buy shoe-lace style craft string that already has a laminated end. Or, you can always “self-laminate” some plain cord by wrapping tape around one end. Another option (better for older kids who are less likely to stab themselves) is to purchase a plastic yarn needle. Some of these needles are even available in kids’ crafts sections with a plastic ball on the tip to prevent accidental pricks!
Set up the beading activity by tying a piece of pasta at the end of the string. This will keep the pieces your child strings from falling off. then, allow your child to design his or her own necklace by string pieces!
Keep in mind that this can be a frustrating activity for kids with poor fine motor control and be sure to provide lots of support. It’s also a good idea to emphasize the reward (a cool pasta necklace) to help those kids who do better with closed-ended activities.
There is a good reason why EVERYONE has done macaroni art. It’s cheap. It’s relatively easy. It involves some planning and visualization. And, it gives kids a chance to work with glue. For our macaroni art project, Little Miss and I chose to create a pasta rainbow.
Because Little Miss still needs a bit of help with planning and visualization, I did the setup for her. Using glue, draw rainbow-shaped arcs for each of the pasta colors you have (see right). Then, place a sample color at the beginning of each arc. Finally, instruct your child to follow the arc across, matching the color as he or she goes.
Obviously, this kind of setup may not be necessary for all kids — and you’re not locked in to doing rainbows either. Because working with glue may not be the easiest thing in the world for your child, try to help him or her choose a subject that is interesting and inspirational. Ideas may include favorite animals, cars, people, or even letters of the alphabet (think initials or names).
Little Miss also likes to have a “wet one” available to her when we work with glue — just in case she gets some on her fingers!
So, there you have it — our favorite pasta activities! I hope you’ve enjoyed this DIY and would love to hear about your favorite activities and how they worked out for you.
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