How to make coloured pasta for craft and play

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Hands up if your children love pasta. Hands up if your children love rainbows. Then what could be better than combining the two with rainbow coloured pasta? Making coloured pasta for craft and play is surprisingly easy, let me explain how.

Pasta is a wonderful sensory material. You can use it cooked or uncooked, dyed or straight from the packet. Today, we’re looking at dried pasta, and how to dye it. It’s not hard, and with our easy method you can achieve some gorgeous bright colours to catch the eye of your little ones.

There are only two ingredients!

Love playing with coloured pasta

I love simple recipes. When you’re a busy mum, you really don’t want to be fussing about organising time consuming activities that require lots of ingredients and lots of preparation. For some reason it always seems that the more time I put into preparing an activity, the less my children will play with it. It’s like they sense the investment. So, I’m much more willing to organise something that is quick and easy to set up and clean up…. Just in case.

And, this recipe fits the bill. The pasta is quick and easy to make, there’s plenty of opportunities and options to play with it, and it will keep nicely in an airtight container. Perfect, as it means if my children aren’t interested today, I can pull it out another day and try again.

So many options to play

Making pictures with coloured pasta

The key here is not to limit yourself to one type of pasta. Penne pasta is great to string together (a fantastic fine motor activity), and will let your little ones create gorgeous necklaces and bracelets for you to wear to lunch. But, you don’t need to stop with penne.

Dying farfalle pasta, macaroni, elbows, and fusilli will help to spur your child’s imagination. You could explore how the dye is absorbed differently for each type of pasta, pick it up with tongs (or chopsticks), pretend it’s grass or a forest or rocks where toy animals can play, sort the pasta by colour or shape, make pasta pictures, or practice making words. Your children will have their own ideas so give them the freedom to let their imaginations roam and see where they end up.

Coloured pasta pictures

Preparation and organisation

These are the keys to success with any sensory play activity. Dyed pasta won’t stain once it’s dry (unless it becomes wet again), so it’s a fairly easy activity to set up and clean up. But, you will need to allow a bit of time for it to dry.

The time it takes for the pasta to dry can vary, depending on how much food colouring you use (i.e. how wet the pasta has become during the dying process), the type of pasta you’ve used, and how hot, wet or cold the day is. That’s a lot of variables! Generally I like to leave the pasta to dry for at least two hours, but sometimes it does take a little longer. Be patient, it will be worth the time!

Playing with dyed pasta

Dry coloured pasta recipe

What you’ll need:

  • Pasta
  • Water based food colouring

What to do:

  1. Put your pasta in a bowl.
  2. Add food colouring.
  3. Stir the food colouring through to coat the pasta.
  4. Turn out onto a tea towel to dry (please be careful as the food colouring can stain the tea towel or the underlying surface).
  5. Alternatively, you can tip the pasta and the food colouring into a container with a lid and shake.

More to explore

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