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Spaghetti Sensory Bin

To continue our sensory play this week, I decided to try an activity with cooked spaghetti. Yes, some might think that’s absolutely nuts, but I’m all about using the senses to discover things in our everyday world. To me, cooked spaghetti was along the same line as a rice table, or dried bean activity…except this was cooked.  I did not make this up, either. There are a million blogs dedicated to toys and play for babies and toddlers. Here were a few places I found inspiration using cooked spaghetti: Here and here. I love the brightly colored rainbow pasta, and I can see how awesome this activity would be for toddlers identifying colors and textures and all that. For my 10 month olds, I used this as my basis when making this activity happen.

I didn’t want there to be too much dye in my pasta, as my babies are still in the stage where everything goes in the mouth. I know it’s called “food coloring” for a reason, but I wanted to limit the amount they may digest. I liked how Bean (in the last link) played with pasta that had a hint of raspberries, to engage the taste and smell senses. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the blueberries I might’ve used (which probably saved me a onesie or two), but I did have some already cut watermelon. So I purchased a box of spaghetti from the dollar store, cooked it up and as it cooled, added a little olive oil to keep it from sticking. I used too much oil. Sticking was not an issue. So for anyone that tries this, just a little oil will work . 🙂

Then I dumped the juice from the cut watermelon and also chopped up a few pieces just in case the babies wanted to taste the chunks (they love watermelon at the moment). It didn’t really make the pasta smell much, so if I did this again, I’d 1) cut back on the oil and 2) skip the fruit. Plain, white pasta would’ve been just fine! I also made this the night before and it was cool when I put it out for them.

It was a beautiful day out so I considered doing the activity outside, but didn’t want to deal with the bugs. Instead, I put down a clean shower liner on the kitchen floor for easy clean-up, plunked the babies down with a bucket of pasta and let them go to town. And this is what happened:

Tentative at first, they each put a hand in and didn’t really explore too much.

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It didn’t take B long at all to try a taste, though for the most part I don’t believe C ever did. (This might have something to do with the fact that they still don’t feed themselves their finger foods…)

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And once he tried it, he liked it. Clearly.

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Yes, somewhere in there B had a mini-meltdown over his bib so I decided the shirt would just be destroyed and so be it – thankfully, it’s totally fine!

C continued to just feel it with her hands, while some fell on her leg.

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One of my dogs, Riley, was having a field day with all the food on the ground and even though I tried to contain her tongue, she slipped a few licks and slurps in.

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They were having a grand time, with C concentrating pretty hard and B just going crazy with delight.

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Then he lifted up the bucket and I knew this activity would end soon. Thanks to the handy shower liner, I just let him go for it.

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Nothing is a mess until you have a box of slimy, cooked pasta on your floor. They weren’t even interested in playing around in it. So after a minute I decided it was time to clean up before the shower liner didn’t do its job anymore and I just grabbed the pasta with my hands and put it back in the fridge, in case we do a repeat in the next few days. While I was cleaning up, I gave them two clean buckets, and I think they would’ve been fine with just those to begin with.

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They slid on the floor so well! Maybe from the oil, maybe not..

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They got up close and personal to finish up.

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And then this happened:

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Resulting in C falling backwards, C screaming, causing B to scream, and that was officially the end of the activity.

Clean-up is a hose to the shower liner (or just throw it out), a wash of the buckets, hands and legs, and that’s it. No pasta on the floor, just some dirty buckets.

Would I do it again? Yes…but I might wait a few months until I think the babies will get even more out of it. I mean, if I’m going to give them a messy activity, I want them to get messy. Step in it, feel it between the toes, that sort of thing. C sitting there picking up one strand at a time…very cute, easy clean-up. But next time I’ll take it outside, maybe color it, maybe not, and again, go easy on the oil.

I still do love these sensory activities and am on the hunt for more, especially for babies. Yogurt as finger paint? I’ll think about it.

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