1. First you need to gather your materials:
* a bottle of rubbing alcohol ($1),
* a box of food coloring ($2)
* Pasta ($1/box)
*quart size zip baggies (1 per color)
* Tin foil
* Large cookie sheet
2. Next, you want to start with one color. Take a quart sized bag and squeeze in some food coloring. The more you use, the deeper the color will be. I usually just put 1-2 squirts in, rather than counting out drops.
3. Pour in some rubbing alcohol into the bag. I usually try to put in 1/2 inch in the bag. If you don't use enough, it wont cover the noodles. If you use too much, the color will be diluted.
4. Next you want to pour in your pasta. I made 2 types today because that is what was in my pantry. You can always do more. If you have a lot of liquid in the bag, you can fill the bag up 2/3 with pasta.
5. Zip up the bag and shake it around to mix it up. Then I lay it down (still in the bag) on a foil covered cookie sheet so the colors can soak in. After a few minutes, I flip the bag over so it can soak into the other side of the bag. ***The bags can sometimes leak out the top, so make sure your pan is covered. You also might want to wear gloves.
6. The next step is to pour out each bag, one at a time, onto the lined cookie sheet. After you pour out the bag, use paper towels to spread out the pasta in an even layer on the sheet and absorb extra liquid. I keep similar colors together on the same sheet. The colors may bleed a little if you have excess liquid in the bag. The result is cool multi colored pasta.
7. The last step is to let it dry. You want to keep it in a well ventilated area. That is the downfall of using the rubbing alcohol. However, the alcohol speeds up the drying time AND it prevents the pasta from getting mushy. (It's really the secret ingredient because it also makes colors pop!) I place my trays in my garage (with the door cracked outside) and point a fan on it to speed up the dry time. After about an hour, I rub or stir up the pasta to make sure the under side gets fully dry too and let it sit by the fan another 30 minutes.
The total prep time is only about 10-15 minutes. Dry time is 1-2 hours. When it is through drying, you can either bag it up by color, or mix it all together. I use the colored pasta in my sensory table, as well as in my art center. I also have the "Ditalini" pasta that I dye, and it turns out to look like pony or pearler beads. Students are able to easily lace them up with yarn. Yay! One less art item to toss money away on!
So the next time you need to add some bright pasta to your centers, make it yourself! This works for all types of small-medium sized pasta, as well as rice. If you make several boxes at a time (tossing in a handful of each pasta into one colored bag), you will have more than enough pasta to last you the whole year! Ive also made special pasta for different themes. Ive made green pasta for St. Patrick's day, colored shells for an ocean unit, and red bow ties for "The Cat in the Hat". The possibilities are endless!