I love finding creative ways to introduce math concepts to preschoolers. This easy pasta craft activity with a mathematical twist was a big hit! You can even think of it as math art with ziti!
The lesson behind this math activity is to learn that shape does not determine quantity. While creating shapes with pasta in an arts and crafts project, kids discover six different ways of arranging the exact same six noodles.
When we did this activity, I wrote out the instructions. However, if you are doing this project with preschoolers or early elementary students who aren't yet reading fluently, it's not necessary.
How to Make the Pasta Art
The instructions are not difficult, but you'll want to make sure kids understand them before proceeding.
- Muffin tin with six cups
- 36 pasta noodles. You want to use something like ziti, which is straight and sturdy.
- Glue (white glue, not a glue stick)
- Construction paper. You will likely need more than one piece for each child.
Place 6 noodles in each muffin cup.
Child should arrange six noodles on the paper in a design of their choice. The only requirement is that each noodle must touch at least one other noodle.
Glue the noodles into place.
Draw an outline around design. This is where you can encourage a little experimentation. There are two choices. They can outline as close to the pasta as possible, or they can draw an outline closely resembling a known shape. For example, if the noodles are arranged as in the spikes of a wheel, they would outline the noodles with a circle.
Repeat with each group of 6 noodles, making different designs, and outlining the resulting shape.
Pasta Craft Variations
An obvious extension activity would be to vary the number of noodles. Try working with fewer or more pieces of pasta and compare the resulting shapes to the original. How does the art change when you have 3 noodles. What about 10 noodles?
Next, you can make the activity more advanced by choosing a predetermined shape, challenge your child to make as many different versions of that shape as they can, but with the same number of noodles. For example if the shape is a triangle, how many different triangles can you make with just six noodles each?
Try out different materials. Instead of pasta try toothpicks, straws (whole or cut into shorter lengths), flat marbles or pipe cleaners.
More easy math activities for kids:
Post first published in 2009, updated 2022.
I adapted this activity from the book Games for Math (affiliate link).