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How to use spaghetti to paint like Jackson Pollock

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Painting with spaghetti is a pretty AWESOME kid activity for many reasons:

It works those oh-so-important fine motor skills

You can set it up to teach mixing primary colors to make secondary colors

Extension activity for the Vermicomposting project you've been doing with the kids. Get it?
"Worm painting."

Encourages kids to paint with non-traditional tools

It's a good way to recycle leftover spaghetti noodles when you've made too much for dinner

Set-up and clean-up is a snap with no paint-filled brushes to wash when finished

It's cheap

Pollock was pretty crazy and so is painting like Pollock..crazy fun that is!

And the best reason...it's messy, goofy fun!

 
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Step 1: Gather necessary materials

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To paint with spaghetti you'll need a few things:

Newspaper to protect the workspace. Trust me, it's messy!

Tempera Paint (I like to use this type of paint because it washes up and out so easily)

A couple of shallow dishes to pour the paint into.
(Tin pie plates work well for this and are a good excuse to go to Marie Callender's for a $5
pie...Mmmmm pie)

Cooked spaghetti noodles
(I like to put aside a few handfuls for later use when we're having spaghetti for dinner. I prefer
thick noodles because they are easy for little hands to grip. However, any type will work. In
fact, thinner noodles would really give young fingers a dexterity workout)

A piece of art paper...the bigger the better.
(I'd pull out a few pieces because this activity is so fun that the kid is bound to want more)

One eager kid clothed in a paint-safe outfit

*Side note: String, yarn, twine, ribbon or really any kind of thick thread works well for this project and can be used instead of spaghetti noodles and would be fun to experiment with. You can also have kids clip a clothes pin to it for a less messy method... but who really wants that?


Step 2: Open up the daily press

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After you've taken care of gathering the necessary materials it's time to set up the fun!

First, you'll need to cover the workspace with newspaper.

Step 3: Pour some out

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Next, carefully pour out a few different colors of tempera paint into shallow containers.

We've been talking a lot about primary and secondary colors in our household lately. As you probably guessed...my daughter decided today we'd make green!

Step 4: Plop some in

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Plop a handful of clean, al dente spaghetti noodles into the paint and mix around, making sure to saturate the noodles with oodles of paint.

Step 5: Use yer noodle

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Pull a paint covered noodle out of the paint and onto the clean art paper. Twirl, pull, swirl, drag, press the noodle all around the paper and see what happens!

Step 6: Art appreciation

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When finished, step back and admire the Pollock-ish masterpiece.

When dry the painting can be frame or recycled into some awesome looking "Thank you" note cards by cutting it up into rectangles!

Step 7: Sloppy copy

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When the kid has finished her first by-the-book painting she's going to want to keep going. Now's the time you hand over a clean piece of art paper and set her loose. You might not want to watch what happens next so take a deep breath, turn around, walk 40 paces to the coffee pot, fill up your favorite Nagel mug with a steaming cup o'joe and don't look until you hear "I'm ready to wash my hands mommy."

Trust me...Don't look...not even a peep...You don't want to know.

Step 8: Worth it in the end

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When you're finally forced to look up and face the messy, messy music there is one huge bright side which comes from the words, "Look mommy I made green!" gleefully shouted by one happy, paint-covered toddler.

Mission accomplished.
i saw this yesterday, and i made it few minutes ago. im not sure how its gonna look when picture get dry and when i remove spaghetti, cause i think that colors weren't strong enough. anyways, it must be awesome! :)))))
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I appreciate the project, but the headline is a bit glib. Pollack's artwork was remarkable in how he methodically distributed the paint to the medium. Slinging some spaghetti around has pretty darn little to do with that. It's kinda like saying that learning how to type is all you need to write the Great American Novel.
Do you appreciate Pollock's work? Because you spelled his name wrong.

which leaves us with the interesting question if it's worse to make a spelling error or to misrepresent an artist's oevre.

I LOVE this idea! Very cool. I would just be afraid of the spaghetti breaking. I guess that would just add to the masterpiece, though. Also, I love the colors (my school colors, so I guess I'm sort of biased). Either way, it's very nice. I'll be trying it sometime soon! ♥ Jessica ♥
Thaikarl5 years ago
what's "al dente"? is it a brand of spaghetti? where do you buy it?
al dente is italian... look here--> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_dente lol
oh. yes i shoulda googled that. my bad. i'm a wet noodle.
aawwwww! cute!
This looks so fun! And Pollock is one of my favorites! I think my 3-year-old will love this!
Swampy5916 years ago
I like this! You can also use marbles dipped in paint...just put your paper in a shoebox or something. Another use for leftover noodles - put them in a ziplock with some foodcoloring and rubbing alcohol overnight. Drain them the next morning for glueable (but sadly, inedible) artwork.
ruthy nov6 years ago
very nice! for protection you can take a large garbage plastic sac and cut openings for the head and arms. It protects kids top to bottom. You can use the opportunity to teach how colors are made. Just make sure to present every time only 2 of the three basic colors - red, blue and yellow. Let them find out by themselves what happens when the mix.
lou_adele6 years ago
I've done this with my pre-school class using noodles (I live in Shanghai) and they ADORE it! Thanks for showing such a great step-by-step.
canida6 years ago
Nice! When I was a kid we also finger-painted with pudding. (The pudding dries nicely if it's not laid on too thickly.) Combining colorful pudding with your spaghetti technique would make for all-edible fun!
Sandisk1duo6 years ago
Wear an OLD shirt
I think the classic painting cover-up is an old adult's button-up shirt worn backwards.
memilycox6 years ago
I haven't done this yet with my 1st graders, but I will let you know!!
haha, this picture is super cute :)
webman38026 years ago
Great idea! One thing we use at church for when kids are painting, we have some t-shirts of different sizes with the back cut open. So, for an apron, they just grab the right size t-shirt and slip their arms in.
rob-e6 years ago
As usual -- great job OtterhopDotCom! Love the mess-making!
uguy6 years ago
Well done, good job and oh the fun!