Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Rainbow Pasta for Toddlers

I am so happy to introduce our new Toddler Series!

Since Wednesday is my Facebook sharing day, I have decided that will be the day I share our Toddler activities. Each Wednesday I'll choose an activity to share that deals with fine motor skills, gross motor skills, sensory play, learning activities or arts and crafts geared towards toddlers. These will be all new activities and if you can't wait, check out my Toddler Activities Pinterest board for some inspiring ideas! Pinterest is my go-to place for inspiration! You are also welcome to a second share post on our wall if you would like to include an additional toddler activity! All posts will be pinned to our Pinterest boards!

As you may know, we love fine motor activities! They are important for children not only for educational purposes but for development as well. We try to set up at least one fine motor activity a day, but I also have several other outlets for fine motor development set up around their play area (puzzles, lacing shapes, beads and string, etc). My children have always enjoyed activities that involve dry pasta, so to kick-start our series, I've decided to share our easy-to-make rainbow pasta!

All you need is some pasta (we chose ziti, penne and rigatoni), food colouring (liquid or gel) or liquid watercolors and white vinegar. You can use a lidded container or ziplock to mix the colours into the pasta. This part of the process is always done by the kids because they love shaking up the pasta and watching the colours spread! They also sorted the pasta into the sandwich size baggies. We aimed for 8 batches, but yellow did not end up happening because Munchkin went ahead and added red to a second batch. :)

I poured some white vinegar into a shallow bowl and handed the kids a measuring spoon each (tablespoon sized). They scooped up a spoonful of white vinegar and I squeezed a bit of food colouring onto their spoon before they poured it into the ziploc. Then they closed the ziplocs and shook them up really well. Once the colour had completely spread we moved on to the next baggie. I let them sit in the baggie for about a half hour, shook them up one more time, and then poured them out onto a cookie sheet to dry. Drying can take a few hours or longer, depending on how moist they are from the vinegar. You don't want to add too much, just enough to distribute the food colouring. Once they were finished drying, we poured them out and lined them up in a sensory bin. We used Wilton food colouring gels for this batch and we loved how they came out!

An easy activity to introduce to toddlers is threading the pasta on pipe cleaners. Pipe cleaners are easy to hold and maneuver and manipulating it would not be nearly as frustrating as a ribbon or piece of yarn. Older children might prefer thick thread (with or without a plastic yarn needle) or yarn to make a necklace. My children still love using pipe cleaners. You can even stick a pipe cleaner in play dough to stand them up. When we work on math, we usually use play dough, pipe cleaners and dried pasta to practice counting and making patterns. You can also cut the pipe cleaners to certain sizes, so they can see how many pieces of pasta it takes to fill them up.

We usually bend the end of the pipe cleaner to stop the pasta from sliding off. 

Bean is especially picky and will take her time choosing each pasta to add. She creates lovely pasta bracelets!

An activity like this can also double as a sensory bin! Both of the kids loved digging their hands into the pasta, scooping and pouring them, pretending to cook them with their little pots and pans. And you can even add in a tactile lesson by seeing if they can tell the difference between the different pastas with their eyes closed!

Add in some colour recognition activities by including coloured bowls or cups to sort and match the pasta. You could do the same with the pipe cleaners or thread. Or even a muffin tin with cut-out circles of the matching colours taped to the base (one of Munchkin's favourite activities when he was younger).

As they get older, you can introduce more educational activities. This is currently Bean's favourite letter activity - using pasta to create letters. We pair the pasta with our set of tactile cards from Logic of English. You can also roll out play dough to stick the pasta in it to hold it in place while they form letters. That is a great way to combine fine motor skill development with tactile learning.

Be sure to come back next Wednesday to see what we share! 

Please note: I trust my children with the materials they were provided for this activity. You know your children best, so use your own judgement when creating an activity for them. Be sure to watch them closely with loose pasta and pipe cleaners. 

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