Measuring and creating with colored spaghetti

We have been continuing our  exploration in exploring length by measuring and creating with colored spaghetti noodles…

Measuring Colored Spaghetti by Teach Preschool

There are many different recipes available on the internet for making colored spaghetti noodles.  When attempting to color the spaghetti at home, it always seems as though I don’t quite have the exact ingredients that the recipes calls for.  As is usually the case when I cook, I decide to improvise.  For my version of colored spaghetti, you will need plain spaghetti noodles; gel food coloring;  oil; and bowls or plastic zipper bags; and rubbing alcohol…

Measuring colored spaghetti by Teach Preschool

Add about a 1/2 cup of oil to a large stockpot filled with water – the oil prevents the noodles from sticking together during the cooking process and during play.  Let the water come to boil and then add plain spaghetti noodles…

Measuring with Spaghetti by Teach Preschool

If you plan to use the noodles for measuring, go ahead and break the noodles into a variety of sizes.  While the noodles are boiling, begin adding the gel food colors to plastic zipper bags.  I read that regular food coloring may not color the noodles evenly but I was also concerned gels would not mix well due to being so thick, so I added a couple of teaspoons of rubbing alcohol to the bottom of the bags.  I squished the gel and the alcohol together until they were mixed well…

Measuring colored spaghetti by Teach Preschool

Once the noodles are fully cooked, strain the water and divide the noodles evenly among your prepared bags of color.  Squish the noodles around in the bags until it appears as though all the noodles are covered with the brilliant gel colors you have chosen. Add more food coloring gel as needed.  Store the colored pasta in the refrigerator until needed.  A few things to note about this process…

  • Adding the alcohol to the noodles makes them inedible, so be sure to consider your children’s needs when making this recipe.  
  • The smell of the rubbing alcohol evaporates off the noodles, so there is no lingering smell while playing with them.
  • I also came across another recipe that called for liquid water color, instead of food coloring.  This too, would make the noodles inedible, but would eliminate the need for the rubbing alcohol.  
  • I made a lot of colored spaghetti – most likely more than I needed for this process to be successful but I was still learning my way around the “how to make colored spaghetti” process…

Measuring colored spaghetti by Teach Preschool

Colored spaghetti noodles are a great sensory activity!  We extended the sensory play into math by providing sorting charts and rulers…

Measuring and creating with colored spaghetti

The colored charts provided the children with the opportunity to sort the spaghetti noodles by color.  Sorting the spaghetti allowed us to talk about size comparisons.  Deborah and I invited the children to share with us which of their noodles was the smallest or biggest, longest or shortest…

Measuring colored spaghetti by Teach Preschool

The rulers provided a very basic introduction into measurement.  The children lined their noodles up at the end of the ruler and stretched their noodles out to see which number it ended closest to on their ruler…

Measuring colored spaghetti by Teach Preschool

Because I had prepared quite a bit of colored spaghetti, we just couldn’t resist the opportunity to explore the noodles in a different manner.  So, Deborah suggested that we use the remaining spaghetti noodles for a little designing…

The rulers provided a very basic introduction into measurement.  We pointed out the

Deborah set out the colored noodles, as well as paper and cups of water.  The pasta may have stuck to the paper without adding water but we went ahead and added water just to create new interest in exploring the pasta.  We invited the children to dip their spaghetti in the water and then create designs on their paper…

Measuring and creating with colored spaghetti

The children were very thoughtful in how they placed their wet colorful noodles onto their paper.  However, when our artwork dried, most of the noodles no longer stuck to our paper, making sure this project wasn’t going to end up going home. However it did give the children a wonderful sensory and a unique measuring process to dig our hands into…

Measuring and creating with colored spaghetti

Available on Amazon

Links to grow on:

Spaghetti sensory play by Teach Preschool

Spaghetti towers by Pre-school Play

I is for inchworm by Everyday Carnival

Discussion on Food for Sensory Play by Teach Preschool



By |2013-02-09T06:00:28+00:00February 9th, 2013|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Eddie - The Usual Mayhem February 9, 2013 at 10:56 am - Reply

    I love this- What a great hands-on activity! I’ve pinned it; now I’m going to colour some pasta so we can try it out. Thanks!

  2. Eva February 9, 2013 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    Hello love the measuring sheet could you please leave a download for it? Also I love the blank journals you provide your students where did you purchase those I have been looking for but can never seem to find the blank pages.
    Thank you Eva

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 9, 2013 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      Hi Eva,
      My Assistant, Mrs. Courtney made the measuring sheet so I will see if she has it saved and if we can share it. As for the blank journals, I picked them up at our local school supply store. You can see them online here:

  3. mel February 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    I love this idea! We are learning the letter S next week and talking about measurement so this will be a great thing to add to my lesson plans! Thanks so much for all of the wonderful ideas!

  4. Barbara February 10, 2013 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    Question since it is still “wet” does the color adhere to your hands?
    Looks like an idea we must try, mrs Courtney, thanks for sharing!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 10, 2013 at 7:04 pm - Reply

      Hi Barbara,
      We did not have any problem at all with color getting on our hands once the color was “set” into the spaghetti. I think the alcohol helps with this.

  5. Amanda February 10, 2013 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    My goodness, you sure know how to get my brain stirring with ideas. Our science table had a giant hole in the middle that I finally found a container to fit/fill. Now the container is empty and I think we could find some way to use this activity there!

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