Pasta Play Activities
Store cupboard staples can make great toys. Whether you’re after a good material for sensory play, a cheap new toy or you just want to ring the changes to your play time with a different material to try, reach into the larder, grab some pasta and you’re ready to go!
Using food in play
Some people chose not to use food as a play material at all. With food a scarce resource in parts of the world, they decide they don’t want their children to associate food with play but rather understand it is precious. Personally, I do use some food items in play with my children, but we approach the food as respectfully as we do all our other resources. I teach the children that everything we play with has a value and we always do what we can to re-use and recycle materials to get as much from them as we can. So rather than buying new plastic toys as frequently, we junk model – and if we are using food, we think of lots of ways to use it so we can stretch the resource as far as possible.
Food is a wonderful sensory material for children to explore, and if you happen to have a picky eater, having the chance to investigate a food in play can be an effective way for them to feel comfortable about eventually trying to eat it. Food stuffs are readily available and can be especially good with young children, who are likely to put all their toys in their mouth. It’s a versatile material, with lots of play and learning potential. Here are some fun activities to put one single bag of pasta to lots of use.
Ways to play with pasta
Pasta is a great addition to a sensory tub – either when it’s cooked or uncooked. Take a large shallow tub, fill it with the pasta and add in some extras for the children to explore. Spoons, scoops and pots are fun and let children practise co-ordinating their hands and eyes to fill and empty the pots.
Or turn the tub into a treasure hunt and hide toys inside the pasta for the children to dig for. You can include fridge magnet letters and numbers or count and talk about the items you uncover. If you’re thinking about using cooked pasta, be prepared to get a little messy. You might want to add in a little oil so the pasta doesn’t all stick together but take care no-one slips. To get the most from your pasta, try out some of the other play ideas before you cook it.
If your children love gluing and sticking, pasta is a great material to make collages with. You might like to offer a selection of differently shaped pasta, or dye some to create a variety of colours. The easiest way to colour your pasta is to pop some in a ziplock bag, add some food colouring and give it a good shake. Lay the pasta out on a baking sheet over night until it’s completely dry and then you’re ready to play. You can use craft glue to stick your pasta to a piece of card, or fix a sheet of sticky-backed plastic to the table or window and invite the children to create some art on there – and then simply peel it off again to use the pasta another way.
Real pasta in a play kitchen adds an authentic touch to play and children can have fun pretending to cook, mix and serve up some dinner.
To add in some maths to your pasta play you could start by simply counting out some individual pieces. Set out some pots and see if your child can put four pieces of pasta in each one. If you have a selection of pasta pieces in different shapes or colours see if your child can group them into matching piles ~ using classification skills which are a valuable first lesson in developing maths skills.
Do you include food in your play at home? How do your kids like to play with pasta?