Don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a rainbow that didn’t cause me to pause for a moment: whole, half, bright, dim, there’s just something about the magic inside a rainbow. And it’s the perfect theme for exploring colors with preschoolers!

Learn how to easily make rainbow spaghetti for sensory play, then take the learning any direction you want to! You can teach the colors, color words, mixing colors, or the science behind what causes the rainbow. Any way you slice it, your students are going to love getting a little messy while diving into a bin of colorful noodles.

rainbow spaghetti sensory play for kids

Recommended Grade Level:

Materials for Rainbow Spaghetti for Sensory Play

  • 1 box of spaghetti noodles (Supplies to prepare: pot, water, colander, olive oil, pan)
  • Food coloring (rainbow colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)
  • 6 plastic zipper sandwich bags 
  • Large pan 
  • Sensory bin

Sensory Play for Preschoolers



Sensory play benefits range from improved vocabulary to emotional coping skills. Whether you’re learning how to dye spaghetti noodles for sensory play, or hiding letters of the alphabet in play dough, activating the senses is great for young kids.

Instead of just preparing the rainbow pasta for children, I like to include them in the process of how to dye pasta for sensory play.

Then it basically becomes two activities! The step-by-step process of making the rainbow spaghetti noodles has as much value as playing in the noodles when they are ready.

In addition to learning how to make dyed pasta, you can get children thinking about the scientific process:

  • What’s going to happen when we add the food coloring to the noodles?
  • What is the next step?
  • How does it smell/taste/feel?
  • What would happen if we mix the food coloring?
Child playing with colored spaghetti sensory play activity

What Can Preschoolers Learn By Dyeing Spaghetti For Sensory Play?



  • What do the noodles feel like?
  • Do you hear/smell anything?
  • Which color do you like the most? Least?
  • Can you form it into a ball?
  • What happens when you squeeze/pull/drop the noodles?
Cooked and dyed spaghetti rainbow sensory play activity

What is the Importance of Sensory Play?

Besides the fact that many kids love getting messy, there are inherent benefits reaped when you implement sensory play ideas with kids.

Language Development: Every opportunity for exploration opens up the door for conversations and vocabulary development. Interesting, engaging activities provide kids with important background knowledge to build on.

Motor Skills: Sensory activities provide varied and active ways to build both small and large motor muscles. While sensory play with spaghetti might focus on pinching and grasping, a game of hopscotch or link tag helps larger muscle groups.

Coping Mechanism: Whether children are engaging in rainbow spaghetti messy play or plunging into cotton balls to pinch objects, the activity itself teaches an important lesson about learning to calm down or cope with various feelings and emotions.

Cognitive Growth: When children experience things through a multi-sensory approach, it allows the brain to form important neurological connections. Although it may seem like play, a young brain is getting what it needs for complex thought and problem solving later.

How to Make The Cooked Spaghetti Sensory Activity

How To Dye Spaghetti For Sensory Play

Supplies for Dyeing Spaghetti:

  • 1 box of spaghetti noodles (Supplies to prepare: pot, water, colander, olive oil, pan)
  • Food coloring (rainbow colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)
  • 6 plastic zipper sandwich bags 
  • Large pan 
  • Sensory bin


  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Drain with colander.
  2. Prevent the spaghetti from sticking by mixing a small amount of olive oil into the noodles. Do not use too much or it may be too oily. Start out with a few drops at a time. (This will help the noodles move about freely during sensory play vs. it clumping into a sticky, giant mess!)
  3. Place the spaghetti noodles on a baking sheet and allow to cool completely. Rinse with cold water to speed up the process.
  4. Once the noodles are cooled, separate them equally into the sandwich bags.
  5. Squirt food coloring into each bag. You’ll use about 20+ drops of food coloring for each bag to color well. 
  6. Close the bag and gently shake to color the noodles. Add more drops of food coloring as necessary. 
  7. When the noodles become rainbow pasta, transfer to a large pan to help them dry. 
  8. Note: The olive oil produces a slightly oily texture when handling. Use a smock or have a set of paper towels nearby to wipe hands on after handling. Wash hands after use.
  9. Invite the child to explore the rainbow dye pasta as a sensory activity, mixing the colors together. You can keep the spaghetti in the pan or transfer to a sensory bin. 

More Rainbow Activities for Kids

Walking Rainbow: A ‘walking rainbow’ experiment is a fun science activity that ties into the colors of a rainbow. Use paper towel, jars, and food coloring to watch the colors climb up the paper towel as they are absorbed.

Rainbow Puff Paint: Puff paint is easy to make by mixing liquid glue, shaving cream, and food coloring. Create rainbow colors and let students have fun painting their own rainbows for sensory play after it dries.

Color Mixing: Science experiments with color mixing are super engaging for kids. Mix the primary colors (red, yellow, blue) to make the secondary colors (orange, green, purple). Use droppers or paintbrushes to watch the magic happen.

Do you love this rainbow walking water science experiment?

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Rainbow spaghetti sensory play for kids

Printable Color Activities for Kids

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author avatar
Kim Staten Owner and Curriculum Designer
Kim Staten is a mother of four children ages 20, 19, 16, and 12. Kim has taught at the preschool, kindergarten and early elementary levels for 16 years. With extensive experience working with special needs children, including her own children with special needs (Rett Syndrome, autism, anxiety, and ADHD), she creates hands-on curricula and activities that are great for working with children of all abilities in the classroom and at home. Hands-on, accessible activities are her passion. 

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