The infamous toddler pasta craft.
I don’t know if I remember these from my preschool days (seems unlikely I can really remember back that far) or I just remember them from helping out at a preschool as a teenager (also a million moons ago).
They were ugly.
They still are ugly.
Don’t get me wrong – pasta is a great material for crafting with toddlers. Loads of ready-made shapes that are easy to glue together or onto card or paper. There are countless pasta crafts out there.
They just always look like errrr… a pasta craft. The pasta rarely seems to get transformed into something a little more… pretty? (I know if you look on Pinterest you will find some stunning pasta crafts, but the prettier ones are definitely not the ones done by toddlers…)
Then I saw an idea for Christmas tree ornaments made out of pasta – the short, stumpy type (fusilli, macaroni etc.) They were stuck onto a round piece of card and painted red, like red Christmas baubles to hang on the tree. They weren’t all that pretty either…
But that got me thinking…
What about using spaghetti as pine needles on a Christmas tree-shaped cutout? Genius! (If I do say so myself…)
With the helping hands (haha) of my two toddlers – well, this was an activity for them after all, but also an excuse for me to do something a little creative – we set to it.
A quick spray of silver paint later and I think these pasta Christmas tree ornaments came out rather well!
Toddler skills used when creating this pasta Christmas tree ornament
Development of the pencil grip – when holding the paint brush to paint on the glue.
(I came across this article which explains the different stages of pencil grip development from Growing Hands On Kids – my daughter is currently using the digital-pronate grasp – I’d have a look if that kind of thing interests you.)
Lots of fine motor practice when sticking those fiddly bits of pasta onto the tree.
You may want to get your toddler involved in breaking the spaghetti into short pieces.
Ask a toddler to be destructive?! Mine didn’t need much persuading. My eldest (a boy) thought this was the best fun ever! He had a few techniques – watch out for flying pasta everywhere – but even the neat freak in me didn’t mind a bit of dried pasta to sweep up.
Ok, I’ve digressed.
The spaghetti needs to be short enough to stick onto the tree. This is actually a good exercise in problem-solving.
Toddler breaks spaghetti piece. Show him it’s too long, what does he have to do? Make it shorter… And so on.
Older kids with decent scissor skills could also help cut the Christmas tree shapes first.
The how-to of this easy pasta Christmas tree ornament
1. Gather supplies
- Heavy paper, card or cardboard (all seem to work well – a thick layer of glue and spaghetti stiffens heavy paper well)*
- White craft glue
- Silver spray paint
- Skewer or sharp object to make hole
- Ribbon/decorative thread for hanging loop
*If you’re wondering why I’ve tried all those options… I made them twice in quick succession since the first lot I left out in the rain… whoops! So thought I’d experiment second time around
2. Make tree template
Firstly, fold a piece of paper in half and draw half a tree on the folded edge as in photo above.
Cut it out and then unfold. Tadah – 1 christmas tree shape
3. Cut Christmas tree shape from card, heavy paper or cardboard
Using the template you made in point 2, above.
4. Break spaghetti into lots of short pieces
With or without the help of your toddler!
5. Paint glue onto Christmas tree cutout & stick spaghetti on
For the best Christmas tree effect, you’re going to want to encourage some pasta to slope outwards, following the outline of the tree.
After a while, my son got bored of doing one bit of pasta at a time and had an alternative, and not particularly effective, method… as you can see above!
6. Leave to dry
Depending on how warm it is, that’ll take a few hours. I left ours overnight.
7. Spray paint silver
Don’t forget the back too! It’ll look much better if it’s spray-painted front and back.
8. Skewer a hole and add a decorative string to tie
I used some sparkly pipe cleaners which worked a treat!
And you’re done!
What do you think? Let me know in the comments!
For more Christmas crafting (specifically for little ones), why not check out these posts:
- Salt dough Christmas tree ornaments to make with toddlers – simple and stunning!
- 29+ adorable Christmas ornaments to make with your toddlers (that won’t drive you bonkers)
- Stupidly easy paint chip Christmas tree card (easy enough for little toddlers)
- Homemade snowman Christmas card to make with your toddlers (cute, simple, fun!)
- Insanely easy DIY gift box you can make in under 10 mins (even with toddlers!)