Playin’ with Pasta

For some reason, I started thinking about pasta recently.  Specifically, macaroni.  I remember the taste of dry macaroni as I sucked and chewed on it, putting the pasta beads on my yarn necklace in my mouth.  I remember making pasta necklaces, carefully picking out each piece before threading it on a striped string, and having an adult tie the ends together to make a loop I could proudly slip over my head and wear around with my friends.  Macaroni necklaces were a huge part of childhood for me.

Although Peanut has brought home a wonderful variety of tactile artwork over his first two years of preschool, and I’m sure a fair number of them have involved uncooked pasta, I have yet to see him home with a pasta necklace of his own. Macaroni has not been as integral to his childhood as it was to mine.  I wanted to be sure that he had the experience of making a macaroni necklace and that he at least had the opportunity to chew on its dry links himself, so on a recent evening, I hauled out a box of multi-colored penne, raided my yarn stash, and we got to work.

At the left corner of the screen, a small boy sits with his right arm raised. His back is to you.  At the right side of the photo is a black tray filled with multi-colored pasta.

Peanut works on a pasta necklace.

What you’ll need:

  • * Yarn
  • * Tape (I used bright red duct tape.)
  • * Pasta with holes in it, like penne or macaroni.  Pick some with bigger holes–small elbow macaroni is too small for little hands to handle.  You can get Target’s store brand for about $1 a box (check online for coupons!)

First, Peanut and Sprout picked out their yarn, and I cut lengths of each.  I then tied a knot in one end of the yarn, and I wrapped tape around the other end.  (If you use duct tape, like I did, I recommend halving it–it’s too long if you leave it at its normal width, and it’s harder to use.)  Your goal with the tape is both to tighten the fibers so that the yarn fits more easily through the pasta and to create a “needle,” of sorts, to make the process easier for little fingers.  We then poured our box of pasta into a work-play tray and got to stringing.

Peanut was absolutely enamored of this activity.  He wanted to string his pasta faster than I did mine, and he loved creating patterns with the different pasta colors.  Sprout became frustrated quickly and switched to playing with the pasta in the tray.  For both kids, it was a successful activity.  The necklaces make great noises, and, if you get a good variety of pasta, can be very tactile.  The best part for me?  Aside from getting to relive a part of my childhood and share it with my own kids, I found an activity to help Peanut with his fine motor skills.  (I’m all about the educational activities!)


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