Playing with pasta pieces, especially macaroni, can be an excellent way to boost your child's acquisition of fine motor skills. Macaroni pieces are small and smooth -- picking them up one by one can be a bit of a challenge for younger toddlers! For the activities below, feel free to use any pasta that tickles your fancy, or simply use what's already available in your home pantry!
For younger children, a sensory tub is a great way to introduce pasta play. Develop their sense of touch, sight and sound by filling a large bowl or tub with interesting dried pasta shapes. Try farfalle, macaroni, penne, fusili or rigatoni. Use pasta of different colours if possible -- such as whole wheat pasta or spinach pasta.
Provide measuring cups, jars with lids, funnels and spoons. Let your toddler touch, pour, scoop and play with the pasta. Put a few scoops of pasta into a jar, put the lid on and shake -- instant macaroni maracas!
SORT YOUR SPAGHETTI FROM YOUR SPIRALI
This activity encourages your toddler to work on his analytical skills, while boosting his hand-eye coordination. Use a few different pasta shapes dyed into different colours (see recipe below for dyed pasta). Provide your child with a variety of containers (plastic food containers are fine -- just make sure they are see-through). Ask him to begin sorting the pasta -- try sorting them by shape or by colour!
During this activity, talk to him about the different types of pasta. Compare and contrast shape, texture, size and colour.
MAKE A LITTLE PASTA ART
If you have an abundance of dyed pasta (anelli, orzo or other small shapes), pasta art is a lot of fun. All you need is pasta, glue and a sheet of construction paper. Arrange and glue the pasta shapes to make a unique work of art! This activity encourages your child to concentrate and focus while building up his fine motor skills.
GLITZ, GLAMOUR, GLITTER, GLUE
With dyed pasta, the next step is making glitter. Simply pulverize small amounts of dyed pasta (put the pasta into a Ziploc bag, seal it, and crush with a rolling pin) to create macarono glitter! Sprinkle into your child's next art project to add a little touch of glamour.
This activity takes the effort up a notch. Older children will enjoy the creative challenge of creating their own fashion accessories out of dyed pasta -- you can make bracelets or necklaces, whatever you prefer. Here's what you need:
Dyed pasta shapes (think macaroni, rigatoni, penne -- anything with a hole)
String or twine
Matchstick or toothpick
1. Cut string to length depending on what you are making -- a necklace can be about 60cm long, and a bracelet about 20cm. Leave a little extra length to tie a knot.
2. Tape a matchstick or toothpick to one end of the string to act as a stopper. Make sure that the matchstick/toothpick does not have any sharp edges.
3. Let your child string his necklace or bracelet.
4. When he's done, secure both ends of the string with a double knot. Trim the excess string.
RECIPE FOR DYED PASTA
2 teaspoons white vinegar (or you can also use hand sanitizer)
10-12 drops of food colouring
1/2 cup pasta
Mix vinegar and food colouring in a small Ziploc bag and then add pasta. Seal the bag and squeeze gently to spread the colouring around. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then turn pasta out onto a large piece of newspaper or paper towel and let dry. Repeat with another colour and pasta type as needed. Remember to supervise your child at all times when dealing with liquids and small items.