Last week we tried a noodle sensory play with cooked pasta. It was partly squishy and a whole lot messy. The boys pressed the noodles through the garlic press and sliced them through the egg cutter.
Although this cooked noodle sensory play was a blast, it was pretty much one and done. The cooked, colored noodles were tossed in the garbage shortly after the boys were finished.
So this time around, let’s try something more sustainable. The second time we colored dry noodles, and it was another sensory play win! Let’s add noodles into our sensory play with this incredible noodle sensory play for kids.
RELATED: First time with a sensory bin? Start here!
- 41-quart storage bin – You’re going to want to chuck your noodles into a large container! I use this one from our outdoor supply bin.
- Food coloring – I like a range of colors because it gives the noodles so much more life – plus, it’s enjoyable for me. – A win-win!
- Funnel set – My kids have so much fun when they pour the noodles into these funnels and watch them fall out the other end!
- Metal scooper – These are optional, but honestly? It adds so much to the activity because your toddler can learn to scoop and tip.
- Neon Food Coloring – Okay, I’ll admit. I’m a sucker for anything neon. Don’t believe me? Check out this Neon Water Play.
- Noodles – The ones I get are more like pasta because they’re better for scooping, but they still have that curly shape.
- White noodle container – Also used as a kid bath toy storage organizer, this container is excellent for…you guessed it! Containing those noodles!
How to Set Up Noodle Sensory Play
Step 1. Divide noodles into different plastic bags, or use a storage container.
You’re going to want to make different colors, so portion out the noodles into containers, so you have a batch for each color.
Step 2. Add a couple of drops of food coloring.
You don’t need much, and the color isn’t essential. It just helps with exploration! I also turned to A Crafty Living to help with how to color the noodles. See her directions here.
Step 3. Shake each bag or reusable container.
You need to shake it up to make sure the color is all mixed in and covers the noodles properly. Otherwise, you’re going to get patchy noodles!
Step 4. Put the colored noodles on a baking pan.
Cook for a couple of minutes on low heat. I did seven minutes at 300 degrees. See? – It doesn’t take long!
Step 5. Allow noodles to cool.
We don’t want hot noodles! I like to make them at least the night before to ensure they’ve had enough time. Let them cool down before trying out this activity.
Step 6. Get ready for some fun!
Add all your colored noodles to a large storage bin, along with some helpful tools like funnels and scoops, then let your child dig away!
When it was time to clean up, we gathered them in our hands and placed the noodles in the storage container for future use.
Noodle Sensory Play Helps Your Kids Explore
- Filing and dumping – My newly turned two-year-old scooped and poured his little heart out to gain a better understanding of capacity and mass.
- Grasping – When you include extra tools like scoops, your child has to practice picking them up, which is great for fine motor skills.
- Independent play – Whenever your little one is absorbed in your activity, it gives you a chance to sit back and drink your coffee…HOT!
- Problem-solving – Some noodles will get stuck in the funnels. Some won’t. Sometimes your kid will pour too many in, and it will overflow. This is great because it encourages problem-solving!
- Sounds and vibrations – My little one’s expression when the noodles would spill over were priceless! As the dry noodles toppled out, you could hear them clang together. It was a calming sound that began to explore how vibrations create sounds.
- Texture – Noodles feel funny, and that’s what we want! They’re rough and spirally – a great new texture to introduce to toddlers.
- Transporting – Scooping up noodles, moving them across the tray, putting them in funnels…these are all great practices to help with coordination.
One of my favorite books, Loose Parts, helps me better understand how loose parts, such as dried noodles, help my children learn. This is a great resource to add to your collection if you are curious about integrating everyday objects into play. Here’s a few ways play can help you boost your child’s mood at home.
RELATED: Take a look at our 40+ Activities for One-Year-Olds here. It is loaded with even more ideas for your toddler.
Does the Coloring Stain Hands?
For us, the food coloring did not stain. However, it is not 100% foolproof. I occasionally see discoloration on the kid’s hands that I can wash off.
You can look for less toxic food coloring online or purchase the pasta already colored that can be found in the grocery store. Whichever you use will surely be a success.
RELATED: We love sensory play so much that we have a dedicated sensory page with all our favorites!
I Don’t Have Enough Food Coloring. Help!
In the middle of coloring the noodles, something happened. As I shook the different colors in each bag, I realized that I didn’t add enough food coloring to each plastic bag. Oh no!
Guess what? I also didn’t have any more food coloring to add.
Cue mom guilt: Okay, when my two-year-old wakes up, we will run out and get some more to add. Cue reality: Kids do not need perfection. In fact, they rarely even ask for it. Not perfect? Roll with it.
Noodles with a touch of color and/or noodles that are perfectly colored work just fine when you are two. They also work for other ages as well!
Set Up Noodle Sensory Play in Minutes!
Just like the activities we have listed in our favorite ideas for toddlers, this noodle sensory bin was open-ended and timeless! If you prep these colored noodles beforehand, then this activity takes literally minutes – minutes! – to prepare! Get started today with this amazing noodle sensory play.
Activities on Demand
Want great ideas without the ads? Download these 20 hands-on learning games for kids.
Looking for More Sensory Play Ideas?
- Five Secrets That Support Sensory Play
- The Importance of Sensory Play
- Best Birthday Gift for Kids
- Brilliant Color Activities
- Outdoor Sensory Play
Frequently Asked Questions
Noodle sensory play is using uncooked noodles in a sensory bin for toddler and preschoool play. Add color to your noodles with food coloring or paint, or use them as is. Use a variety of pasta in sensory bins to change up texture and shape.
First, add dry pasta into a plastic bag or bowl. Next, add a few drops of alcohol or vinegar into the bag. Add a few drops of food coloring into the bag or bowl and combine ingredients. Mix every five-seven minutes and let the noodles soak in the color for about thirty minutes. Finally, lay the pasta on parchment paper to dry overnight. When your pasta is dry, it is ready to be played with!
In my experience, the food coloring does not come off if enough time was allowed for the colored pasta to dry. This is a great sensory filler to make ahead of time and use when you need an easy idea. Here are 40 sensory bins for kids.
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