Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Macaroni Patterns

It's December so it's time to haul out the big bin of macaroni and string up something nice to wear.  Little kids (and big kids, too) love making these macaroni necklaces and the results can be surprisingly beautiful.  We're getting low on pasta this year, so our choices weren't as spectacular as in years past.  That means it's time to hit the sales and stock up on shapes.  We make these necklaces in December, because the pasta takes reds, greens, and oranges better than other colors and the classroom teachers think they look so festive.  
To dye the pasta you will need pasta, rubbing alcohol, and dye (food coloring works, and so would a squirt of liquid water color).  You'll also want the large, one gallon zip lock bags, and a tray or plastic sheeting for drying the pasta.
When everything is ready pour a tablespoon or two of alcohol  into the bag, squirt in your color, and pour in the pasta.  Squish and squeeze to move the color around.  When everything looks well-colored pour the contents onto a thick layer of newspaper, or onto plastic sheeting to dry.  (Best to do your pasta dyeing in a well ventilated area or outside because the alcohol stinks).  But, it lasts forever so while you're at it, make a lot!!  To store, I wrap mine up in newspaper and tape shut and I keep the individual packets in a medium sized plastic bin. 
The first time I tried stringing these with kindergartners was a disaster.  The macaronis started rolling off the table and onto the floor.  The kids got really frustrated and started getting up for help.  They crunched macaroni with each step and made a huge and embarrassing mess.  I made a mental note to never to do this again.   Then I discovered this...
Pleat a  piece of copy paper to make a bead holder.  Kids build their pattern in the tray.  When they have created a successful pattern the receive their string.  The string has a piece of tape on one end to facilitate stringing and a bead tied to the other end to keep everything on.  I ask kids to use at least three small shapes in between each large shape to make the macaroni last longer, but am not a real stickler about this as I'm mostly interested in knowing they can make and continue a pattern. 
This photo shows kinders hard at work making macaroni pattern necklaces.  Nothing spilled, no one got frustrated, and everyone is sporting a new accessory this week.

This little guy lost his pattern after the first round, but look at his persistence!


  1. Love it! I've never dyed macaroni but it sounds easy. The kids must love making these!

  2. GREAT idea with the paper layout first. I love that idea. I will be sure to use it and quote you as the smarty pants! Thanks a lot!

  3. love your blog! thanks for the comment on mine : ). Your have some terrifc lessons.