What You Will Need:
- Dry pasta in as many shapes or sizes as you want
- Liquid water colors or food coloring
- Hand sanitizer
- Plastic zip lock style bags
- Trays, cookies sheets or plates for drying
- Paper towels
Choose Your Pasta
There are lots of shapes and sizes to choose from. We recently colored these little pasta wheels and having been using them in all sorts of ways.
Color Your Pasta
There are few different ways you can color pasta. We love the vibrant colors that using liquid water colors produces so more often than not that’s what we choose. To color the pasta your desired amount of pasta in a plastic zip lock style bag (we usually start with a cup or two for each color). Then add a few squirts of liquid water-color and shake until it’s the pasta is thoroughly coated. Your Little Pnut will love the job of shaking the bag, of that I am sure! If the color isn’t vibrant enough add a little more liquid water-color. Better to start with just a little at a time and add more if necessary as too much wet will begin to make the pasta sticky.
If you don’t have liquid water color you can color your pasta using a few pumps of hand sanitizer and a few squirts food coloring. We prefer gel food coloring because it tends to yield more vibrant results.
Dry Your Pasta
This step is important! Line cookie sheets or other trays with paper towels. Spread your freshly colored pasta out separating any pieces that might be stuck together and leave it to dry. We usually let ours dry overnight before handling it but a few hours should do the trick.
Play, Explore & Create
The possibilities are almost endless. You can use your pasta as sensory bin filler. It’s great for color sorting. It can be used for art work in various ways. Our Little Pnuts like gluing pasta shapes on paper to make pictures or collages. It can be strung on cord for jewelry.
This activities focuses on the following Developmental Milestones for your Little Pnuts:
Fine Motor Skills, Focus and Concentration, Strategic Thinking, Color Recognition, Shape Recognition, Hand-Eye Coordination, Sensory Play, Cognitive Development, Creative Play, Imaginative Play & Free Play.—Jennifer Haas, founder of Plain Vanilla Mom.
If you are a parent or caregiver looking for activities for young children, you’ve probably noticed that “sensory play” is all the rage on kid blogs and Pinterest. There are even entire websites devoted to sensory play for little ones, and while they are full of creative ideas, you may find yourself asking, “Does my child REALLY need sensory play for development?”
To answer this question, let’s look at what we know about sensory play.
WHAT IS SENSORY PLAY?
Sensory play is simply play that encourages children to use one or more of the senses. Often called “messy play,” sensory play experiences focus on stimulating children’s senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, taste, balance, and movement.
Research tells us…
- Young children rely on sensory input to learn about their environment.
- Sensory play helps build neural connections that support thought, learning, and creativity.
- Sensory play supports language development, cognitive growth, fine/gross motor skills, problem solving/reasoning, and social interaction.
- Children’s exposure to sensory play opportunities is declining.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO US?
The first three points on the list above are pretty self-explanatory. In a nutshell, sensory experiences are like food for the brain…they provide valuable input that allows the brain to build new pathways that in turn support growth in crucial areas of development.
The fourth point, however, is what sheds some light on the answer to our original question, “Is all this REALLY necessary?” You may be thinking, “My parents didn’t do sensory play with me, and I turned out ok!” The fact is, our little ones spend much less time outdoors than their parents and certainly grandparents did as children. Since the outdoors is naturally full of sensory play opportunities, this has definitely had a part in the decline of sensory play. Secondly, although children can definitely fulfill their need for sensory play indoors when given periods of unstructured playtime with stimulating materials, the truth is that indoor time is often monopolized by television, battery operated toys, or toddler/preschool programs that focus on drilling academics rather than fostering important play skills. This has resulted in a generation of children who may not even know how to play when given the opportunity…how sad is that?
So in short, the answer to your question is yes, sensory play is crucial for your child’s development. And since children today are no longer given ample opportunities for naturally occurring sensory play, it is up to us as parents to be sure their needs are met.
Before you rush out and buy the materials to recreate every zany sensory activity you ever pinned on Pinterest, here are some much less time-intensive activities that you can do to enrich your child’s “sensory diet” without losing your sanity as well.
- Play with sand, mud, water, shaving cream, cornmeal, water beads, dried or cooked pasta, dried beans or lentils, etc. Provide a variety of containers, kitchen tools, and small toys for your child to explore with.
- Sing and dance to music. Use child-sized instruments, scarves, ribbon wands, etc. to encourage participation and engage multiple senses.
- Build with blocks, empty cardboard boxes, or canned goods. Knock down your towers and talk about the loud noises.
- Add essential oils or extracts to play dough and compare all the different scents as you play.
- Pick out a variety of fruits and vegetables at your local market (try to choose some that are new to your child). Have a “sensory picnic” where you encourage your child to touch, smell, taste, and play with all the different produce.
- Go for a walk in your neighborhood or in a wooded park. Let your child stop and pick up leaves, sticks, rocks, or whatever else interests him/her. If you want, bring a bag to fill with your “treasures” to bring home and make a collage with, or just simply to show to another family member.
MORE GREAT STUFF JUST FOR YOU:
To learn how to use fun sensory play activities to help get your toddler talking, check out Building Language with Sensory Play. (Link to- http://www.two-daloo.com/sensory-play-and-language/)
For an entire gallery of sensory play ideas, click HERE. (Link to- http://www.two-daloo.com/category/play/sensory-play-little-minds-tot-school/)
—Stephanie Haass, Little Pnuts Early Childhood Activities Expert & Blogger, founder of www.two-daloo.com