How to Dye Noodles for Sensory Play

Remember the days of making macaroni necklaces at school to present to your mom for Mother’s Day? Coloured pasta is just as fun now as it was back then! Once you learn how to dye noodles, you can use them for sensory play or a variety of other activities with kids. trays of red, yellow, green, and blue macaroni noodles with text that reads In our house, we do a lot of sensory play. I keep a variety of materials on hand for this including dyed noodles and dyed rice. Read our instructions on how to dye rice.

How to Dye Noodles:

Supplies needed:

  • macaroni noodles (or other small noodle)
  • food colouring*
  • rubbing alcohol or white vinegar
  • plastic resealable sandwich bags (you’ll need one for each colour that you want to make
  • paper towel lined baking tray

*A note about the food colouring: You can use regular food colouring or for more vibrant colours, you can use Wilton food gel.

four trays. One with red macaroni, another with yellow, another with green, and the other with blue.Directions:

  1. Add 1 cup of dry noodles to each zipper bag. Do not seal the bags yet.
  2. Pour 1 Tbsp. rubbing alcohol or 2 tsp. vinegar into each bag.
  3. Into each bag, drop 10-20 drops of one colour of food colouring.
  4. Seal the bag well.
  5. Mix the noodles around in the bag by moving with your hands and shaking gently until they are is evenly coloured.
  6. Open the bags and pour each colour of macaroni (or other noodle shape) onto a tray to dry.
  7. Check on the macaroni noodles during the drying process and stir around to ensure the noodles are drying properly. It can take several hours for them to dry. I usually leave mine overnight to be sure.
  8. The coloured noodles are now ready to be used in sensory play.
  9. When not in use, store your dyed pasta in an airtight container or sealed bag. 

dry noodles in a clear plastic bag being dyed red, yellow, green, and blueYou can now use your brightly coloured noodles for art activities, preschool crafts, stringing onto yarn to make a necklace, or all kinds of sensory play. Dyed noodles make a great sensory bin filler or can be used in sensory bags or sensory bottles. You can make a simple sensory bottle by filling an empty bottle with coloured noodles or you can make an I-Spy type bottle by “hiding” other items in among the noodles for kids to find. 

clear bottle filled with red, yellow, green, and blue macaroni noodles on a blue backgroundThis method can be used to dye pasta of any shape. For larger noodles, you may find that you need slightly more food colouring. I find that you get the best colour results from using small pastas such as orzo, mini shells, Alphabet noodles, and macaroni. 

Some schools don’t allow food to be used in classrooms for play. If that’s the case, we also have a list of non-food sensory bin fillers.

Looking for other sensory play recipes to create fun options for your kids? Join us for a free five day email series on Sensory Activities and Solutions and get a free sample of our Sensory Play Recipes eBook.

You may also want to read:

How to Dye Rice for Sensory Playseven metal trays each with a different colour of rice on it

Frog Sensory Bin with Dyed Pastared pasta with bright toy frogs and green lily pads in a bin

Sensory Bin Fillers and Toolscollage of bright coloured sensory bins

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