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August 19, 2014

How to Dye Pasta

It's been quite awhile since we dyed a batch of pasta for art and sensory play, so I decided to put together a pasta rainbow!

The easiest method for dyeing pasta - no vinegar or alcohol needed to achieve these long lasting, vibrant colors!

Rainbow Pasta - Recipe for Play

The wonderful thing about pasta is that is comes in so many shapes and sizes.  Each type of pasta provides a different sensory experience.  We've dyed pasta many times before, so for this rainbow pasta I decided to use our three favorite types of pasta:  elbow macaroni, rotini, and penne.  I bought two boxes of each from Dollar Tree, so I could make six colors of pasta.  Another aspect I love about pasta for sensory play is that it lasts for many months and can be played with again and again.

Dyeing pasta

How to Dye Pasta

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Adding color to pasta

Directions:  We dye our pasta exactly like we dye rice, no alcohol or vinegar is needed.  Just coloring and pasta.  For this batch I added one box of pasta to a ziploc bag at a time.  The boys took turns adding the color.  I prefer liquid watercolors since they are brighter and come in a variety of colors.  Food coloring can also be used, especially if you have little ones who are likely to taste the pasta.

Dyeing pasta for sensory play

The next step is my kids' favorite.  I seal the baggy carefully, and they shake it as hard as they can.  They shake it until all of the color is distributed and covering the pasta.  Actually, they generally shake the bag way longer than necessary.  I don't blame them.  It's makes a cool noise, and it's fun to watch the color spread.  Much to their chagrin, I draw the line at throwing the bag.

Dyeing pasta in a Ziploc bag

I completely forgot to take a photo of the next step, but it's an easy one.  I spread out the colored pasta on a sheet of wax paper and let it dry.  On a hot day, like today, it will dry in a few hours.  During colder months, leaving the pasta over night might be necessary.  Since I was making a batch of rainbow rice I had six sheets of wax paper on my kitchen counter.

How to make gorgeous rainbow pasta for art and sensory play - This method doesn't require vinegar or alcohol and is so simple, a toddler can do it.

Once all the colors were dry I carefully added them to a sensory bin and invited the boys to play.

Sensory play with dyed pasta

I am not kidding when I say that they boys attacked the bin like a pack of wolves.  All day long they had been checking on the pasta and asking if it was ready.  We mixed it up in the morning and played with it while my husband made dinner, so there were quite a few hours of anticipation building up to this play time.

Rainbow pasta sensory play - hands down the best and easiest method for dyeing pasta

Any time I make a multicolored sensory material there seems to be a race to see who can mix it up the fastest.  I love both the separated colors and the mixed.  They are just so beautiful.

Gorgeous rainbow pasta.  I love this quick and easy method for dyeing pasta!

Tank (3) cracked me up.  He spent a good ten minutes with his head against the side of the bin watching his hand push the pasta around inside.  I would love to know what was going on in his head as he played.

Playing with dyed pasta

As is often the case, the boys climbed right into the bin to feel the pasta with their toes.

Rainbow pasta sensory play for kids - a sensory material that lasts for months!

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This is my favorite picture from the day.  Tank said, "Mommy I swimming, I swimming!" as he dove into the pasta bin again and again.

"Swimming" in rainbow dyed pasta

More rainbow sensory materials:

How to dye rice - I love how simple this method is!  Gorgeous rainbow eruptions for kids - Easy, inexpensive, and so much fun!  How to make rainbow slime for sensory play - Isn't it gorgeous?


  1. This looks like such fun :) I'll definitely be giving it a try

  2. Like the idea of dying each kind of pasta a different color 😃


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