Pipe Cleaner Sprinkles

We have so many pipe cleaners in our craft bin right now that it seemed like a good time to put them to use. This activity was great for a toddler because it combined fine motor skills with a little imagination!

To start, I snipped a bunch of pipe cleaners into “sprinkles” i.e. one inch pieces. We had a nice assortment featuring with variety of colors, some sparkly and some not.

Next I gave Veronika a jar that she could fill. A washed and dried nutritional yeast jar was perfect since one side of the lid featured a large opening, and one side featured a small hole. Large spice jars would work well, too. Veronika was quite intrigued and tried out both openings. Sometimes she tried to add a whole handful at a time, but soon realize she needed to use more care.

When the jar is full, the pipe cleaners make a nice, soft shaking sound. Your toddler will no doubt enjoy dumping it out and starting over several times.


Then Veronika began adding “sprinkles” to her hair so proudly!

It was time to add a little twist and use our imaginations. We formed a few playdough “cupcakes” and she became a baker decorating her cakes. She loved placing pipe cleaner pieces just so for this.

In sum, this activity was a neat way to keep her occupied on a rainy morning.

Pipe Cleaner Shapes

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This easy project is a great way to help little ones develop the hand-eye coordination to color within the lines. In this case literally, thanks to bumpy raised lines made from pipe cleaners.

As Veronika played with a few extra pipe cleaners, I arranged others in simple shapes like triangles, squares, and circles on sheets of construction paper, and then taped them down.

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Then I simply showed her how to use crayon to color within the shapes. She loved choosing which color to use in which shape.

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It was neat to watch her reaction when her crayon came up against the pipe cleaner “bumper”, forcing her to stay within the lines. I could see her brain working as she realized she had to stop her crayon before it ran over he edges.

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In sum, this is a great early lesson on pen control, which is the first step towards drawing all those shapes…down the line.

Pipe-Cleaner Party

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Here’s an old activity I used to do with Travis, and today was Veronika’s turn. Make your kitchen colander into the prettiest one in the world with pipe cleaner decorations!

I set out a big handful of pipe cleaners and showed Veronika how to poke one down into the colander’s holes.

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She took over immediately!

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Big brother Travis wanted in on the party, too! He liked making the pipe cleaners into loops instead of simply sticking them out straight.

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I challenged the kids to see if they could fill all the holes, which they nearly achieved!

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For an extra challenge at the end, I sorted the pipe cleaners around the colander by color. Could Veronika figure out where a few leftovers were supposed to go?

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After a bit of prompting, she aced the test! This was a great way to play with common household items, now that colder days have us inside longer hours once more.

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Pipe Cleaner Sculpture

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Pipe cleaners are a fantastic way to introduce your toddler to the idea of 3-D and sculptural art. Because the ends of pipe cleaners can be pointy, this is definitely an activity that you want to supervise the entire time, not something for a toddler busy box. I loved taking time today with Veronika to show her how to manipulate them.

To start, I dumped out a package of multi-colored pipe cleaners in front of her. So needless to say, the game was already a hit!

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I started by making a few fun shapes. Using our imaginations, this one looked like a dog.

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She got quite a kick out of mommy’s art skills as we made the pipe cleaner say “woof”!

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Her next request was for a sheep, so I wound together white pipe cleaners into a semblance of a woolly lamb..

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She then loved pulling off the curly “wool” pieces.

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I tried to think of the safest way to make her a “sculpture” without resulting in any poking and pricking, and circles seemed ideal. Loop these together in a pattern or in rainbow order, or any other way that strikes your fancy!

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Veronika loved holding long chains of the loops, and also decided that individual circles made great bangles and anklets!

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In sum, you’ll have a great time together discovering all the ways you can manipulate the pipe cleaners, whether tight curly-cues, or interesting shapes, or more.

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Robot Craft Challenge

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This morning, I challenged Travis’s creativity. Could he make a robot with nothing more than 3 items from our craft bin: craft sticks, pipe cleaners, and googly eyes? He was instantly up for it!

I laid out the materials (we also added tape) and watched him ponder.

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He very quickly decided a few sticks taped together could be the body. “I can do it!” he insisted, ripping the tape and sticking it on by himself. Then of course we added eyes, which Travis wanted to tape on all by himself.

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Next up came embellishments. He insisted we use shiny gold chenille sticks, since robots are usually shiny metal.

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He wanted to add arms, so another craft stick went on crosswise. But then he thought his robot needed wings. Some pipe cleaners twirled around the arm stick did the trick.

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The fun didn’t end there. We used chenille sticks to twist “bodies” and “arms” of more craft sticks together for baby robots.

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Then, because Travis is obsessed with all things Spiderman and his villains these days, we added 8 chenille stem pieces to another body as “Dr. Octopus.”

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What a great morning of fun we had, using just these three items from the craft bin!

Pipe Cleaner Caterpillar

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I was delighted to see Travis pretending this morning that he was on a “nature walk” around our apartment, taking along a bucket and finding “treasures.” One of the items we never found on a true nature walk this fall was a wooly bear caterpillar – so we decided to make a few to find around the house!

Wrap pipe cleaners around a pencil tightly, then simply slide off. I only had brown pipe cleaners at home, which served our purpose perfectly, but feel free to be inventive with colors: shiny caterpillars, multi-colored caterpillars, whatever suits your child’s fancy!

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Travis immediately was wiggling them around the “forest floor.”

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He then stretched out some of the coils so they could be worms instead – I love when his imagination takes a game in a direction I hadn’t anticipated.

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He then wanted a turn coiling a pipe cleaner around the pencil, which was tricky for him, but he loved trying it out.

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We ended up gluing googly eyes on just a couple of the caterpillars, for an extra adorable touch.

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Indoor Fishing


We took home a cool magnetic wand (a small magnet glued to a craft stick) from a workshop recently, so I wanted to continue the magnet play at home. Did you know pipe cleaners are magnetic? The outside is fuzzy, of course, but don’t forget that filament of metal in the middle! To play with the idea, we twisted colorful pipe cleaners into a school of fish.

Cut pipe cleaners in half, and simply twist the ends so each has a tail. You can also make large fish by not cutting the pipe cleaners in half first.

To make a fishing rod, we found a beautiful stick outside – the snow melted just in time! I attached the magnetic wand to the stick with a piece of string. Note: You could also skip the craft stick, and simply glue a magnet to the end of the string. Now we had our fishing pole – although around here, I tell Travis we are “rescuing” the fish with our fishing pole instead of “catching” them!


I set up our pipe cleaner fish on a piece of blue craft foam for a pond, and Travis loved this imaginative element to the game. He tried picking up some fish while standing with the full rod…


…but then preferred to hold the craft stick and pick up the fish more easily from the ground.


We then had fun pairing up the mama and baby fish (i.e. big and small) of each color, which was a cute exercise in size and colors.


What else can you find around the house that is magnetic and adheres to your wand or rod? Please share fun ideas in the comments!