Pasta is great to eat and to craft with! It is fun to create art out of macaroni (specifically, a macaronisaurus… and dinosaurs are big in our house these days). We’ve had fun crafting with and playing with our pasta before. Macaroni art is not a new concept, but something that is easy and fun to do. So, I went ahead and pulled out a few boxes of different shaped pastas from the pantry. My son glued some plain pasta onto the sheets of construction paper and was delighted with his artwork.
We decided that it would be more fun if the pasta was colored, so we went ahead and dyed the remaining pasta. My son knew that we wouldn’t be able to use the noodles right away, but he wanted to help color them. I asked some friends for the recipe they used and a few people said they didn’t have any luck with rubbing alcohol, so here is the recipe that we finally tried.
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 10-12 drops of food coloring
- ½ cup any shaped pasta (rotelle/wheels, elbows, ditalini, ziti, spirals, etc.)
We mixed the vinegar and food coloring in a measuring cup then poured it into a Ziploc baggie – similar to our dyed rice sensory tub filler.
We added the pasta, sealed the bag, rolled it, shook it, and did whatever it needed to coat the noodles. This was really quite fun.
After the noodles were thoroughly covered, we let the color set for about 5 minutes. Then, we dumped the noodles out onto a paper towel and let them dry for 15 minutes, then turned them and let them continue to dry.
A couple of notes from our experience:
- You may have to adjust the amount of food coloring if the color isn’t as saturated as you like.
- If you would like to make orange, start with yellow food coloring first, then add the red drop by drop. Adding more yellow to an already very red orange doesn’t seem to work so well.
- If you would like to make green, also start with the yellow first, then slowly add the blue.
- Purple was the most difficult to get right, but your best bet is to start with the red in this case and add the blue drop by drop.
- Periodically move the pasta around on the paper towel so it dries all over (and doesn’t stick to the towel).
- Use several layers of paper towel so you don’t stain your countertops!
When the pasta is dried and ready, let the art begin! Get out your glue and make a macaronisaurus, flowers, an abstract, you name it!
After having success with the activities listed above, I began looking for some other ideas for the colored pasta and I came across a post on pasta “sprinkles”.
Now, I have avoided glitter in my house because it is impossible to clean up, it inevitably gets stuck on your face, and I hate to vacuum. That being said, I had always wanted to have my son use it in his art projects. More specifically, the project I had in mind was where you put glue on your paper, sprinkle glitter on top, and shake off the excess to reveal a beautiful sparkly design. Although I knew he would enjoy this, I didn’t want the mess. The post above suggested using pastina and stellini, both very tiny star shaped noodles, to sprinkle on top of their art. Pasta instead of glitter? Brilliant! Now, you’re not going to get the sparkly look, but the concept is the same and the cleanup is a heck of a lot easier!
To make macaroni glitter, follow the same instructions for dyeing pasta above, using either pastina, stellini, or both. Please note, however, that clumps may form and it is easier to unclump them when they are still wet.
Once your “glitter” is dried and ready for use, take a piece of construction paper and drizzle glue on it in a specific design or any which way you want.
Take a handful of macaroni glitter and sprinkle it on the glue. When all of the glue is covered up (no white peeking through), gently pick up the piece of paper and the excess glitter will slide off. Fill in any missed spots, scoop the rest of the glitter up, and put it back in the bag. Repeat until your design is finished!
Originally, my son worked with one color at a time, and we would clean up after each color so that the stars would stay separate. However, he then decided to sprinkle a little of each color simultaneously. The excess that was shaken off was put into a new Ziploc baggie labeled multi-colored.
Once his artwork was complete, the construction trucks then had to come out to help get the excess back into their baggies. Bulldozers are very helpful! Perhaps someday I’ll be brave enough to allow this project to be done with real glitter, but for now, I’d like to try to keep it off of my carpet and my baby daughter’s head.
The most important thing to remember is to let your child create, explore, and play without pushing your own agenda. It can be difficult if they insist on putting glue on top of the pasta instead of under it or if it isn’t in the pattern you think will look best. Let go. Model for them, scaffold for them, guide them, but ultimately, let them explore, play, and create on their own.