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Are you looking for an activity to keep your kids busy while you work? With a writing deadline approaching, I needed something easy that would engage the kids for while.
I wanted something they could do at the table, so I could keep my eyes on them. The activity needed to not be too messy either, since I didn’t want to spend tons of time cleaning when they were done.
Rainbow noodles to the rescue!
Sensory learning is important! I knew this low-mess activity could keep the kids playing and exploring for a while. To prepare, I brought a pot of water to a boil and cooked a pack of cheap fettuccine.
You can use spaghetti, but I think the thicker texture of fettuccine holds up to play better.
To Make a Batch of Rainbow Noodles
Once the noodles were cooked to al dente, I drained them. To speed up the process, I ran cold water over them until they were cool enough to touch.
Then, I added a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and stirred to make sure everything was coated. I didn’t want the noodles sticking together.
The oily noodles got separated into several different bowls. I let each child who wanted to play pick a color, so we ended up with six bowls.
The kids picked their color, and added two drops of food coloring gel into their bowl. I handed them each a chopstick and let them stir.
When they were finished, the noodles were bright and colorful. We let them dry in the bowl for about fifteen minutes, while we took a short snack break. Kids who aren’t hungry are able to focus for a little bit longer, after all! 😀
Prepping for Play
After cleaning up our snack mess, I brought out a large paper plate for each child.
I scooped a little of each color noodle onto each plate. I added a pair of chopsticks and a plastic fork as well.
Then I let them each pick two other tools from the kitchen to play with.
- Measuring cups
- Wooden spoon
- Cookie cutters
- Silicone muffin cups
Let the Rainbow Noodle Fun Begin!
Then we gathered the rainbow noodle plates and the tools, and headed to the table. I spent a few minutes with the kids watching them play.
Owen immediately started eating his noodles. That’s why we were using an edible today! I wanted something he could safely play with.
As he was eating, he let them drop onto his head and arms. I knew he’d be fine and enjoy the activity.
The other kids were getting into their noodles. They started off playing with each color separately, but it didn’t take long until they were all mixed together.
Then the free play started.
They cooked each other meals of noodles to order, and arranged noodles into shapes.
Another child suggested making a rainbow out of the noodles, bending one of each color onto the table. They all picked out their noodles and tried to build their own.
They used chopsticks to see who could pick up the most noodles at once, and who could pick out only one of each color.
One decided to count how many noodles it took to fill a specific measuring cup.
They had a blast!
And I was able to sit nearby with my laptop and knock out some work. Win win!
We’ll definitely be doing this again.
When we were done, we worked together to clean up. We gathered all the big noodles and tossed them out for the chickens to eat.
A broom and dustpan took care of most of the remaining mess. A few pieces were sort of gummy and needed picked up by hand. Good thing there were plenty of helpers to help!
The next time I do this activity, I’ll likely cook up two boxes of noodles. That way everyone gets more to play with. If you have a smaller family, one box will probably work just fine for you!
The next time you’re looking for a low-key, open-ended sensory activity whip up a batch of rainbow noodles.