Monday, November 4, 2013

DIY Pretend Play Food: Pasta

I hope I am not the only one who sees countless crafty possibilities when I look at a skein of yarn or a sheet of felt. I have a list of ideas and hopefully I will be able to check them all off! Eventually! One of the fun uses we have for yarn and felt is creating play food. We have created felt pizzas and felt tacos in the past (which I will be remaking soon, since they have become quite worn, so I'll have to post about them!). But one of our favourite play foods is pasta! 

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We have a pretend play kitchen (ours is the Step2 Fresh Market Kitchen) that came with lots of plastic food and we also bought a few separate play food sets (years ago). But pasta is one of those foods that just doesn't look well as a lump of molded plastic. Not to mention, I just really enjoy making our own pretend play foods, because we can do whatever we want with them and customize them several times. The only downside to yarn and felt pretend play foods is that they collect lint and hair (if you have pets) if they get everywhere. My kids are the kind who like to toss things around as soon as they become momentarily bored, so I just collect all the pieces afterwards and clean them up before storing them in a Ziploc or a food storage container. Each separate batch fits perfectly in a Ziploc. 

To make the pasta, we used white yarn for spaghetti (you can use cream, tan or light brown yarn, depending on what type of pasta you are making - hey, you can still make pasta look healthy!). I kept it simple and used white yarn. I cut various different lengths from the yarn, all roughly 5 inches - 8 inches long. For the fettuccine, I used a sheet of cream coloured felt. I cut straight lines (as straight as possible, since I was free-handing it) along the long edge. The felt sheets were 9"x12", and I was able to cut nearly every inch into 3 strips, which was roughly 36 pieces. 

Here are some ways to play. First up, in the kitchen! The kids really enjoyed "straining" the pasta in the sink, like mommy does. But they strained the pasta before adding it to the LeapFrog Cook and Play Potsy. They love this cooking pot because it makes lots of fun sounds and sings and talks to them. It's one of our favourite toys and is used almost daily! They stirred the pasta around, drained the pot, refilled it, "broke" the pasta by snapping it in half (they obviously didn't break the felt, but I love that they pretended to do that!) and then waited for the water to boil before straining the pasta again. 

When the pasta was finished cooking, they added in some yummy ingredients! Juicy red tomatoes and some meatballs (we use the light brown pom poms for pieces of "cut-up sausage" and "chicken meatballs", the dark brown pom poms are "beefy meatballs" - specifically "beefy" not "beef"). This is a fun way to work on coordination and developing fine motor skills by adding, stirring and scooping the pom poms.

Then, while I was actually cooking in the kitchen, I set the kids up at the table and gave them a couple paper plates. They insisted on putting the cooking pot on a pot holder, because it was "super hot!", before scooping their dinner onto a plate. We added tiny pom poms as spices at this stage. Black for black pepper, green for parsley and oregano, red for red pepper flakes, yellow for coriander seeds or just a yellow spice ball.

Yummy spaghetti!

Yummy fettuccine!

They really loved playing with this food! Bean spent some time pretending to cut up the spaghetti. I loved that this was a fun life lesson style of pretend playing.

Munchkin mimicked his sister and pretended to cut up his pasta.

But he focused on cutting each strand of fettuccine individually.

Bean also used this activity to practice twirling spaghetti onto her fork. Which was hit or miss, but I loved how focused she was!

The taco and pizza activities are just as much fun! And I can't wait to make new batches of pretend play food! A dessert batch of cookies and donuts and sweets, and sushi and stir-fry are also on my list! Yum!

Please always stay within arms reach of your child(ren) when they are playing. Some sensory materials may not be suitable for every child. Please use your own judgement when creating sensory activities for your child(ren). 

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