Pasta and Puppies Sensory Bin

sensory play for babies

We were having one of those rough days – it was a day after we returned from a trip out of town, no one slept as much as they should the night before, it was raining, a package arrived that wasn’t the package my 4 year old has been anticipating, and my 1 year old had only a brief nap. By the time 4 pm rolled around, everyone’s temper was short, and we all needed a way to press the reset button. Then I saw a bag of uncooked colored pasta we keep for play, and thought that would be perfect.

I poured the pasta into a basket, got out some measuring cups, and we spent time just scooping the shells up with our hands and the cups, listening to the clatter of the shells as they rained back down into the basket. It was soothing to all of us.

After a while I brought in a few small toy puppies to add to the pasta. My baby had fun playing, scooping out pasta and puppies, and pouring it into another measuring cup. I came up with a few other games to play:

  • Find an object: With closed eyes, my 4 year old grab either a dog or a piece of pasta. My 1 year old did the same thing with his eyes open (usually with help).
  • Number play: With closed eyes, my 4 year old grabbed a certain number of pieces of pasta or dogs.
  • Rescue the dog: We “rescued” the dogs by taking them out of the pasta.
sensory bin with pasta
We used tri-color pasta, but for some more fun, and eye-popping color, try coloring pasta. You put the uncooked pasta into a zip lock bag with a tablespoon or two of rubbing alcohol and food coloring, close it, and shake the bag. Then lay out the pasta in a single layer to dry overnight on newspaper, cardboard, or another surface you don’t mind staining. You can use this method to color rice as well.

Here are some other very fun ways to color pasta and rice that I will try next time:

Happy Hooligans has a thrifty and easy way to make both colored rice and colored pasta.
For a different sensory experience, Love, Play, Learn shares some fun with coloring cooked spaghetti.
Mama Miss has tutorials on coloring both pasta and rice with Kool-Aid
Teach Preschool has a post that explains coloring rice with Kool-Aid, food coloring, and even cocoa!

Looking for more baby and toddler play ideas? Check out Zero to Two: the book of play, an e-book I co-authored! It includes 25 step-by-step tutorials with pictures, as well as links to over 50 more ways to play with babies and toddlers – all for $8.99.

Baby and Toddler Play Ideas

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