Easy DIY Rainbow Spaghetti Noodles For Sensory Play

Rainbow spaghetti is a FUN and terrific sensory activity for kids to work on improving fine motor skills. Making colored spaghetti is a breeze, the kids have a blast playing with colored pasta noodles, and all you need are common supplies you probably already have!

I’m constantly looking for different ways to incorporate sensory playtime with different colours and new textures. I’ve done various sensory boxes for sensory bin play, and they have been an absolute HIT! 

But recently, I was brainstorming different sensory play materials I could use, and I thought about cooked (and cooled) pasta. So I decided to make different colors of pasta and see what happened. WOW – it was LOVE! My boys spent at least 2 hours digging their hands into this colored spaghetti and playing with all the strands of various colors. WIN!

They also love it when I make DIY Nutella Edible Playdough so they can play with it. (I guess these are exceptions to the “don’t play with your food” rule! 😂) 

Benefits Of Sensory Play

Why do I encourage my kids to engage in sensory play? Because it provides SO many benefits for young children and their developing brains. Here are a few of the primary benefits:

  • Develop fine motor skills
  • Build language skills
  • Improve gross motor skills
  • It’s calming
  • Promotes creativity
  • Help understand cause and effect
  • Enhance observational skills
  • And more!

How To Make Rainbow Spaghetti

Toddlers, preschoolers, and older kids will all enjoy hands-on art and playing with dyed spaghetti. The good news is that rainbow spaghetti is edible so there aren’t any worries about them eating it.

Supplies Needed

Gather together these supplies to make rainbow spaghetti for sensory play:

  • 1 box of spaghetti noodles (supplies to prepare: pot, water, colander, olive oil, pan)
  • Gel food dye coloring – rainbow colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple
  • 6 plastic zipper sandwich bags
  • Large pan
  • Sensory bin – Nearly any large container with short sides will work so kids can play with the noodles while keeping them contained (evening a baking sheet!)

Note: This recipe is safe to eat, so you could use it for a special St. Patrick’s Day treat if you want!

craft supplies

How To Dye Rainbow Spaghetti For Sensory Play

Making your own rainbow spaghetti is an easy recipe that comes together quickly so kids of all ages can start having sensory fun!

Step 1 – Cook The Noodles

Cook the pasta noodles in a pot of water according to the directions on the packaging to al dente. Mix in a little oil (1-2 tbsp cooking oil) during the cooking process to prevent them from sticking together. Drain the noodles into a colander and rinse with cold water. 

Note: Do not use too much oil, or the noodles may be too oily. (This will help the noodles move about freely in your child’s hands during sensory play vs. it clumping into a sticky, giant mess!)

cooking noodles

Step 2 – Cool The Noodles

Place the plain uncolored spaghetti noodles on a pan and allow the noodles to cool down completely.

letting cooked noodles cool down

Step 3 – Separate Noodles Into Bags To Dye Them

Once the noodles are cooled down, separate the noodles into equal amounts and put them inside separate resealable bags (like a large Ziploc bag).

adding food coloring to bags of cooked noodles

Step 4 – Add Food Coloring

Squirt food coloring into each packet of cooked spaghetti. You’ll want to use approximately 20+ drops of food coloring for each bag to give the noodles vibrant color and make rainbow spaghetti.

Step 5 – Color The Noodles

Close each bag completely and gently shake it to dye the noodles.

If you notice that some of the rainbow noodles aren’t colored well, manipulate the bag with your hand to mix the color around some more. If you need more dye feel free to can add more drops of food coloring.

Pro Tip: Make sure that your bags are COMPLETELY closed before manipulating them or you might end up with food dye squirting out and making a mess!

rainbow spaghetti noodles in plastic bags

Step 6 – Allow Rainbow Spaghetti Noodles To Dry So The Dye Sets

When the noodles are colored completely, transfer them to a large pan to help the noodles dry a little and take a peek at those beautiful vibrant colors!.

rainbow spaghetti in a pan

Expert Tips And Tricks

  • Since we use a little bit of oil on the noodles, it will give the noodles a slightly oily texture. To keep the mess to a minimum, have your child wear a smock or have a set of paper towels nearby to wipe their hands when they’re done playing. And make sure to wash hands after use.
  • You can keep the spaghetti in the pan or transfer it to a sensory bin.
  • Let your child explore the rainbow spaghetti as a simple sensory play activity and have fun mixing the colors together.

How To Play With Colorful Rainbow Spaghetti

This sensory play activity makes an easy great sensory experience for toddlers, pre-k, kindergarten, and even older children. Here are some ideas for safe sensory play:

  • Make a rainbow!
  • Try braiding noodles together!
  • Mix the colors all together
  • Hide small toys or objects for kiddos to find!
  • Make different shapes and pictures with the noodles
  • Give them small tongs to use…the sky is the limit!
rainbow spaghetti in pan

Rainbow Spaghetti FAQs

Can I use natural food dyes?

Yes! The colors won’t be as vibrant, but if you prefer to go totally natural, check out this post on Make It Grateful to learn more about using natural food dyes for this recipe.

Will colored spaghetti dry out?

Yes, if you leave it out in the air, the noodles will dry out. And that will give kids a new texture to explore with their senses!
However, if you want to keep the noodles as soft and pliable for as long as possible, store them in a large Ziplock bag in the fridge for up to 1 week.

More Rainbow Foods And Activities

If you love rainbows as much as we do, you’ll definitely want to check out our:

Extend The Rainbow Spaghetti Sensory Activity

Explore using different colors! You can use all the colors of the rainbow or try making pastel-colored pasta. This activity is a great way to explore the concept of color transfer – what happens when you mix colored pasta together? What happens if you mix bags of dyed spaghetti together before the noodles dry (and the colors set)?

While my kids played with the rainbow spaghetti, I read the book,  ‘A Rainbow of my Own‘ by Don Freeman. We’ve also read How the Crayons Saved the Rainbow by Monica Sweeney and enjoyed it!

mixing colors of rainbow spaghetti

More sensory and crafting fun activities

If you love this rainbow spaghetti STEM activity, also be sure to check out our:

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