How to Dye Pasta for Kids Crafts and Sensory Activities Post Preview: This includes a step by step tutorial (with pictures) of how to dye pasta for pasta crafts and sensory activities to use with kids for some easy and inexpensive fun and learning. This post, which was originally published on September 9, 2009, was updated in September 2018.
Way back when my kids were much younger, we used to belong to a homeschool co-op. I often taught classes, including a few years of teaching preschool. One year, I decided that I wanted my preschool co-op class to work on a project for their Moms. Many of the kids have never been to traditional school, so their Moms had never been the recipients of handmade projects made at school.
I really kept wavering about what I should make with them, but then I thought of the fun, inexpensive, and educational craft of pasta necklaces. Making pasta necklaces features great fine motor practice, as well as math for patterns.
If you would like to make some of your own pasta necklaces, pasta crafts, or dyed pasta for sensory experiences, I’m going to show you how to dye pasta in this post. It’s easy and inexpensive, which is great when working on crafts for kids!
How to Dye Pasta for Pasta Crafts and Sensory Activities
Here’s what you need to dye your own pasta for a variety of crafts (you can also dye rice with this same method for crafts or sensory tables):
How to Dye Pasta for Crafts: Supplies Needed
1. Pasta — there are lots of great shapes that can be used. Just keep in mind how you’ll be using them, and that will help guide you.
Because I was doing necklaces with young children, I went with only rigatoni noodles. The kids were better able to maneuver making necklaces with this larger shape.
Quick Note: There was a comment that suggested this could be an even more frugal project if store brand pasta is used. That could definitely be true, so keep that in mind when you’re buying. However, also be sure to check out the brand name boxes. When I bought these, they were actually on sale and cheaper than the store brand.
2. Rubbing Alcohol — This is also known as Isopropyl alcohol. You’ll need around 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol for every cup or two of pasta. So, if you are making a lot, make sure you have enough rubbing alcohol before you start.
Note: I used a 70% alcohol concentration. Some people in the past reported having issues with sticky pasta with concentrations that were in the 90’s. So, consider looking for one around 70%.
3. Large Ziploc bags — make sure you have a brand that seals well. I double up my bags to further reduce the risk of leakage.
4. Liquid Food Coloring — Make sure you have a few different colors if you want to make a variety of colors of pasta. Also, don’t forget – you can mix colors to create new colors!
How to Dye Pasta for Pasta Crafts and Sensory Activities: Directions
1. Get your Ziploc bag and add 1/4 cup rubbing alcohol and around 10 drops of food coloring. You can add more food coloring, if desired. Swish it around to mix.
2. Add 1 – 2 cups of pasta into the bag.
Truth be told, I added about 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol to these bags plus double the amount of food coloring. Then I just filled the bag with pasta.
3. Really move the pasta around in the bag by shaking up the bag as well as by gently massaging the liquid around the pasta.
4. Repeat steps 1 – 3 with for each color of pasta.
5. Lay the bag flat (still sealed). I put the bags on a foil lined cookie sheet, just in case there were leaks.
6. Allow the pasta to sit in the Ziploc bags. I flipped them over every 30 minutes for a couple of hours. You probably could let them sit for longer and flip them over less. I just loved looking at the colors as they got deeper and more vibrant, so I flipped them often.
The longer you let the pasta sit in the bags, the deeper and more vibrant they will become.
7. When you have your desired color, drain the colored alcohol out of the bag. Pour the pasta out of the bags and set the pasta out to dry.
I put newspaper on my aluminum foil-lined cookie sheets. Then I put the pasta down on them in sections by color.
Let them dry like that overnight. Once the pasta is dry, store it in a sealed container or baggie.
Making Pasta Craft Necklaces
The kids loved making necklaces for their Moms! Plus it was a great way to work on fine motor skills and patterns.
Quick Tip: When making necklaces with young kids, it is easiest for them if one side of the yarn is taped down to the table.
Each child also decorated a paper bag for their Moms to use as “gift wrap.” My assistant and I mostly wrote the Happy Mother’s Day on students’ bags. For our youngest students, we even wrote their names for them, if they needed help. All of the students decorated their bags with crayons after they finished their necklaces.
Having never received these kinds of handmade kid gifts, I actually had several Moms who told me that they wore their beautiful and bright necklaces to Mass on Mother’s Day!
This is a fun, easy, and frugal craft for Moms (with the dyeing) and kids!
Want to try some more fun crafts?
Disclosure: How to Dye Pasta for Crafts and Sensory Activities contains affiliate links. Using them doesn’t change how much you pay. However, when you shop through them
Join 25,000+ Other Awesome People
Subscribe to the Real Life at Home weekly newsletter to get our latest content, exclusive free printables, learning activities, and ideas for celebrating with your kids all year