Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Entertaining Children 1

Okay, child since Dulcie is just one person, but I'm sure multiple children might enjoy these things ;D I had a bunch of awesome pictures but my camera is not cooperating. You will all have to suspend reality with me.

Colored Pasta (good for color sorting or stringing)

Pasta (e.g. penne, macaroni, ditalini--it just needs a hole if you want to string it)
Empty clean yogurt cup
plastic wrap
food coloring
1 scant tsp vinegar
stirring stick
baking sheet
paper towels
news print (to control messes, hopefully!)

notes: I've seen this done with rubbing alcohol, but I didn't trust that with such a little baby. I also recommend pre-measuring how much pasta you want to use for each color (this would be neat with a variety of types like ditalini=red penne=purple for color and shape sorting) because then it goes faster and you don't end up making a whole bunch of one color on accident. If you want little fingers to help you, I recommend ziploc bags. If you are going to string the pasta, check to make sure that your needle (if you are using one, I'm using a plastic one I use for knitting) fits easily through the hole.

First, spread out your newspaper in case you have spills or splatters. Then to a clean yogurt cup add the vinegar and food coloring, mix well with stirring stick (I used wooden coffee stirring things). Add your pasta, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and shake vigorously for a minute or so until well coated or color has developed. Using fork, rake the damp pasta onto the paper towel and roll around to remove excess moisture. In my experience, don't let the pasta dry on the towels, since it can stick to the paper. Instead, with the fork, roll the pasta on to the baking sheet and allow to dry completely.

More Notes: I don't recommend drying the pasta in the oven, even a cooling one (tried this with one batch). My noodles got real funky in color and texture.

Successful Colors: Since pasta is naturally a kind of yellow color to begin with, warm colors are more successful.
  • Red - Very successful as long as enough red coloring is added to the vinegar. Even though color deepens over time, if you start with a weak looking red you shouldn't have high hopes for a rich crimson.
  • Orange - Since it's a secondary color of yellow, this is also successful. Start with a yellow base and add a little red (only 1-2 drops). I used a 4:1 ratio for a nice medium orange when dry. My first attempt was a red base with yellow added. The end color was a dark orange but too close to red for my taste (Dulcie also called it red, so a definite no go).
  • Yellow - Complete win for obvious reasons.
  • Green - Secondary color of yellow, so bright yellow based greens work great. I had a nice kelley green that edged on christmas green.
  • Blue - Not so good. Blue + Yellow = Green, so it takes a lot of blue coloring to overpower the yellow pasta base. End color for me was a cross between royal and navy.
  • Purple - Not so good, either. It takes a while for the color to develop and has similar problems to blue. End color for me was dark purple.
In the end, what mattered most to me was that Dulcie could identify the color with little effort. She called the purple pasta purple, so I was happy. :D She loves the colored pasta and has been playing with them since they finished drying. Right now I am storing the pasta in a small plastic container with a lid.

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