Elbow macaroni is a great medium for dozens of fun and easy craft ideas. From the classic macaroni necklace to vases and picture frames, kids and adults can get creative using noodles and other basic household items to make gifts and unusual works of art. You can even use elbow macaroni as stuffing for bean bags or to make musical instruments.
Coloring the Macaroni
To make colorful macaroni, set out four bowls and fill them each with 1/2 cup of rubbing alcohol and ten drops of food coloring, using a different color in each bowl. Drop some uncooked elbow macaroni in each bowl and stir for a few seconds. Spread the macaroni on paper plates or waxed paper and allow them to dry completely. You can use the dried, colored macaroni to make the classic noodle necklace: simply string the noodles along 12-14 inches of yarn and tie the ends together. You could also make a colorful pasta collage by gluing the colored noodles to construction paper.
Cut out a picture frame from cardboard, or use purchased cardboard frames. Glue colored macaroni around the front of the frame, or glue on uncolored noodles and then spray paint with gold paint. Once the glue has dried, you can place a photo in the frame and give it as gift.
Pencil Holder or Vase
Clean out a tin can and carefully sand down any sharp edges. Use a paintbrush to spread glue around the outside of the can, leaving a half-inch at the top and bottom without glue (this will keep the pasta from sticking here and makes it easier to handle the can). Spread elbow macaroni out on a paper towel or waxed paper and roll the can over the macaroni, making sure the pasta sticks securely. Allow to dry completely, and then spray paint it if you like.
This craft takes a bit more time, but is still kid-friendly and makes an adorable spring decoration. You will need cardboard, black, white and pink paint, two clothespins, two small wiggle eyes, black felt, and elbow macaroni. Cut a three inch circle from the cardboard for the sheep's body, and a 1 1/2 inch circle for the head. Paint both sides of each circle with black paint and let dry. Paint the top third of the head circle with white paint, and let dry. Take the clothespins apart and paint both black. Once dry, reassemble the pins. Attach them to the bottom of the body circle like legs, securing them with glue. Glue elbow macaroni to the front of the body and to the part of the head that you painted white. Paint all the noodles white. Paint a pink nose on the sheep and glue on small felt ears and wiggle eyes. Once everything has dried, glue the head to the body.
You can make an easy maraca using a single-serve cardboard cereal box. Cut the box open on all sides and turn it inside-out, so that the plain side is showing. Fill it with elbow macaroni and glue or tape it back together. Cut a small hole in the bottom and attach a pencil or dowel rod with glue or tape (this is the handle for your maraca). Decorate the outside of the box with colorful paints. When it dries, shake it to make music!
Based in Pittsburgh, Pa., Lori Keller began writing in 2010 and has been a freelance translator since 2001. Her work has appeared on eHow. Keller has a Bachelor of Arts in French from the University of Pittsburgh.