A few days ago I saw a colorful spaghetti sensory tub from One Perfect Day, and I thought that Simon (20 months) would love squishing his hands around in it and "cooking" for me.
I picked up an inexpensive pack of store brand spaghetti and cooked it for 6 minutes (the recommended cooking time was 9 minutes) so that it was soft but still firm. Next, I divided the cooked spaghetti into two bowls and added a splash of water and a bunch of food coloring into each pile and let it sit for about 5 minutes to absorb the color. I was worried that any excess food coloring was going to come off on my kids' hands, so I gave the pasta a final rinse in the sink in cool water. Worked like a charm!
Sawyer (6) and Sutton (5) ended up liking the silly spaghetti bin even more than their little brother! They served up plate after plate of pasta to each other and played restaurant for a really long time. They especially liked using all the different kitchen tools to see how much pasta they could scoop up with each one. The tongs were the biggest hit and could grab the most spaghetti.
This little guy probably would have loved the pasta play too, but he got distracted by the remnants of yesterday's Slip 'N Slide fun. Nothing like having a soaking wet toddler at 8:30 in the morning!
I definitely think these big guys had enough fun to justify the 79 cents spent! After awhile the pasta started to get a little dry and gummy, but we just added a little tiny bit of water to get it right back where we wanted it.
(Still too engrossed with the puddles to even notice that there's a huge tub of neon spaghetti twenty feet away from him! This kiddo is obsessed with water!)