Spaghetti sensory play

Do your kids love sensory play? Sensory fun with food offers an entirely new experience!

Did you know that spaghetti is primarily flour, salt, and water?  This is the same basic ingredients used in homemade play dough – only in the end, spaghetti goes through a mixing/kneading/cutting/drying process to look the way it does. Someday, I want to try making real spaghetti with our class much like they have demonstrated on a cooking show or by using an online recipe. But for today we explored already made and cooked spaghetti, much like we would explore playdough by using our senses….

Our exploration in spaghetti sensory play took on several twists and turns through out the day. I hadn’t planned on leaving the spaghetti out most of the day but each time I started to clean it up, my threes would say, “But we aren’t done with it yet!”

Building Fine Motor through Sensory Play

I boiled one large box of spaghetti noodles and then set the cooked spaghetti out on a tray along several kitchen tools including “wooden toaster tongs” which I picked up at Big Lots and I also added scissors for the children to work on their cutting skills….

My three year olds do understand that what we set out on the table is for us to feel, explore and is not for us to eat. They also know if they want to eat some spaghetti, that we will set some aside for them to try but they almost never ask me for any to eat – but just in case, I stay prepared…

Throughout the day I would add a little water to the spaghetti when the noodles started to get too sticky. I shared with the kids how adding a touch of water would make the spaghetti more slippery again…

Experimenting with Color through Sensory Play

After the children had spent half the day exploring the spaghetti with the various tools, I asked them if they would like to paint the spaghetti. The children eagerly said “yes” so I added a few paper plates of paint and some paint brushes too…

And boy did the children paint.  They painted every noodle with every single color of paint I set out…

The painting of the spaghetti was such an intriguing process for my threes.  They stayed at it for a very long time…

Some of the children asked me if they could add pink – so we brought out the white paint and mixed it with our red to make pink spaghetti too…

Exploring Texture through Sensory Play

As you can see, the spaghetti painting began to get more messy as time passed by. The children mixed, and mixed all the colors until our spaghetti started looking quite “slimy” and then they decided it would be fun to try mixing with their hands….

Had I put out “slimy colored” spaghetti in the first place for the children to explore, I guarantee you that most of my three year olds would not have wanted to touch it with their hands. But because they painted it themselves, they were invested in this process and didn’t hold back at all…

Helpful Tips

A couple of management lessons I learned in this process….

  • If you know you are going to let the children paint the spaghetti, then just set it out on large butcher paper in the first place so it is easier to clean up! Then you can throw paper and all away in the end….
  • Perhaps let the children paint first before adding scissors to cut it up into teeny tiny itty bitty pieces! Yikes!

Reflections on the Experience

Although the process is messy, the kids were so engaged and I wouldn’t go back and change a thing about this day! My three year olds were loving the experience and I heard so many wonderful conversations along the way…

  • “We are making rainbows!”
  • “Oooh, this looks like worms.”
  • “Honey, do you want me to cook you some more spaghetti?”
  • “We eat spaghetti at our house.”
  • “Can we make pink spaghetti?”
  • “Let’s move the spaghetti over to the other tray.”
  • “You missed a spot – it needs painted over there too.”
  • “We need more water Mrs. Stewart!”

A wonderful exploration in color, texture, sensory, and fine motor play….

Discussion on Food for Sensory Play

If you have concerns about using food for sensory play or would like more on this topic, then click the photo below!

More Spaghetti Links to grow on…

Cooked Spaghetti Sensory Bin from Play Create Explore!

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs from I Can Teach My Child!

Rainbow Spaghetti from The Imagination Tree

Spaghetti Worm Painting from The Chocolate Muffin Tree

Books on Amazon…


Deborah J Stewart

Deborah J Stewart

Every time I think I know everything I need to know about teaching young children, God says, "Hold on a minute!" and gives me a new challenge.

Let me tell ya...

With each new challenge that you overcome, you will find yourself better equipped and more passionate about teaching young children.

God didn't call wimps to lead, teach, or care for His children. Nope, he has high expectations, so get ready. You will have to give your very best but after teaching for over 30 years, I can tell you that it is a wonderful and rewarding journey.

Whenever your calling feels hard, just remember, 'He who began a good work in you (and in the children you serve) will be faithful to complete it.'

Subscribe to My Newsletter

Latest Blog Posts

P is for Pizza!

While learning about the letter “P” we decided to explore with pizza! Pizza is an all-time favorite food for many preschoolers, and activities involving pizza

Read More »