Did you know can educate, entertain and exercise your child using just a single pipe cleaner? Oh yes you can! A pipe cleaner is the perfect toy for children of all ages! Don't believe me? Here's 100 reasons why..
Jump to age...
|0-2 Years||3-5 Years||6-9 Years||10-13 Years||14-16 Years|
1. Tickle Stick:
Use your pipe cleaner as a 'tickle stick' to tickle your baby's feet. For toddlers you can introduce body-part language by tickling different parts and naming them.
2. Zipper Pull:
Toddlers often have problems with their zipper until they develop the fine motor skills. Help your toddler by attaching your pipe cleaner to their zipper. It gives them extra leverage and looks pretty neat too.
3. Pencil Grip:
One of the most important markers of learning to write is using correct pencil grip. Here's where your pipe cleaner can come in handy.
4. Little Chef:
Invite your toddler to act like a chef and use the stick to chop, stir and cook in the kitchen.
5. Defuse a Tantrum:
Toddler approaching meltdown territory? Use your pipe cleaner to explain how people can bend and change when they need to in a situation. Full instructions here.
Create a pipe cleaner stethoscope for fantasy play. This works best with an extra-long pipe cleaner. Don't worry if you don't have foil for the end, just twist a circular shape.
7. Wiggly Worm:
Here's a simple activity to boost your toddler's fine motor skills. Show them how to twist a pipe cleaner around their index finger. Instant wiggly worm - cute!
8. Needle Craft:
Create an adorable child-safe needle that you can use for pretend threading. Turn your toddler into a mini tailor.
Invite your child to pretend their pipe cleaner is a microphone and enter them into a 'singing contest'.
10. Hand-Free Microphone:
Now combine singing and dancing! Bend your pipe cleaner into a hand-free microphone so your child can move and sing more easily.
11. Decorate A Tree:
Pimp up a tree either by twisting your pipe cleaner around a branch or by 'hanging' it on like a candycane.
12. It's A Wrap:
Name different body parts for child to see if they can wrap the pipecleaner around it (nose, ear, toe, ankle, wrist, forearm, thumb, etc - great for learning body parts)
13. Piggy Tail:
Twist your pipe cleaner into a spiral and pretend it's a pig's tail. Tuck it into your child's pants and let the squealing commence!
14. Cats' Whiskers:
Time to morph into a different animal. This time, if you want to be extra smart-ass you can discuss why cats have whiskers (i.e. to help them navigate their environment).
15. Easy Shamrock:
Show your preschooler how to make a shamrock using just two easy-peasy steps.
Like the shamrock but more elaborate. Suggest a specific number of petals and see if your child can make them.
17. Xmas Decs:
Twist your pipe cleaner into a Christmas Decoration. Don't forget to twist a hook on the end so you can hang it up. Beads optional.
Yup, you can make useful stuff out of pipe cleaners, like this epic bookmark.
19. Pipe Cleaner Snail:
Show your child how to create a simple pipe cleaner snail by twisting the pipe cleaner into a spiral.
20. Badass Pipe Cleaner Snail:
Now see if you can make a 3D pipe cleaner snail. That's badass, right there.
21. Hair Band:
Create a pipe cleaner hair band. Simples.
Ditto a necklace.
It's easier (and classier) to make a bracelet if you have a few pipe cleaners to hand, but one still looks decent. Beads optional.
24. Air Guitar:
Suggest that your child to use the pipe cleaner as an air guitar. Hilarity guaranteed!
25. Air Drum:
Now demonstrate how to use the pipe cleaner as a drum stick. Just make sure no one important is watching.
26. Magic Wand:
You don't have to go all show-off like the wand below. A simple untwisted pipe cleaner will suffice, Harry Potter style.
Kids' shoes are always coming unlaced. Not if they are made of pipe cleaners! Your pipe cleaner will also be easier for your child to manipulate with their little fingers, making learning to tie shoe laces a doddle!
28. Finger Puppet:
Create a finger puppet and then act out a story. When the story's over, unroll your finger puppet and create a different character for a new story! Don't worry if you don't have the equipment to add details (eyes, nose) - your child's imagination is the best equipment.
29. Descriptive Words:
How many words to describe the pipe cleaner can you child name? Furry, Light, Thin, Red, Glitter, Soft, Toy, Stripey, etc. When you feel they are getting stuck, prompt them with various concepts such as length (long, short) or dexterity (flexible, bendy, twisty).
30. Length Lingo:
Take the above activity to the next level with this game. Give your kiddo a pipe cleaner and ask them to make it 'Shorter' (they could bend it in half). Now ask them to make it 'Longer', then 'Shortest', etc. If you have any hair clips to hand you could use it to mark various lengths on the pipe cleaner (see pic below).
31. Cake Toppers:
Create a pipe cleaner cake topper, ideal for birthdays.
32. Learning Letters:
Name a letter and challenge your child to twist their pip cleaner into that latter. Talk about how the letter might be formed. Discus upper and lower case letters.
33. Nifty Numbers:
As above, but numbers. Genius.
34. Splendid Shapes:
Yup, as above, but shapes. Count the number of sides on your shape. Discuss whether your shape is curved or straight. Older children can locate angles and talk about diameter.
35. Decorate Something:
A pretty pip cleaner bow can bling up even the most mundane of items, and it's great for strengthening fine motor skills.
Create a keyring, then use it to attach your keys to your bag, belt, or some place else. You're SO never losing those bad boys again! Added bonus: this activity strengthens fine motor skills.
37. Flick Soccer:
Scrunch your pipe cleaner into a tiny ball and flick it back and worth to your child.
38. Hat For An Egg:
Random, I know, but every egg deserves a hat.
39. Simple Tiara:
Okay, enough with egg hats! Invite your preschooler to construct this simple tiara with triangles.
40. Fancy Tiara:
Once you've perfected the simple tiara, why not have a bash at this slightly more complex version using spirals.
41. Cat Toy:
Give your pipe cleaner to a cat and watch what happens - guaranteed laughs! (Remember to supervise said cat).
42. Simon Says:
Challenge your child to make various items. "Simon says.... make a heart!"
43. Hair Clip:
Construct a fancy hair clip. Cute.
Encourage your child to converse with this simple activity. Explain to your child that whoever is holding the pipe cleaner is the only person who can speak. Ask your child a simple question such as "What did you do that was fun today?" Hand the pipe cleaner to your child and encourage him/her to respond. Continue to converse using the pipe cleaner. Variations: This is a great activity to use at dinnertime to keep your child's attention on the conversation. Hold the pipe cleaner and begin telling a story, passing the pipe cleaner to another family member to continue the story. Continue passing the pipe cleaner until the story is finished! Be ready for some interesting twists in the plot!
45. Handmade Christmas Ornaments:
Pipe cleaners make fabulous icicles, doncha know? Beads optional.
46. How Many Legs:
Here's a math activity with a twist (quite literally!) Twist your pipe cleaner into a spider or an octopus and ask 'how many legs'. Can your child create more legs, less legs. Take a leg away by rolling it up - how many left?
47. Cameleon Game:
Discuss cameleons and how they use their skin as camouflage. Create a pip cleaner cameleon with your child and then find an environment for your cameleon to 'blend in'. If your pipe cleaner is green, the garden would be a perfect spot. Of course, your cameleon doesn't have to look as fancy as this fella:
You don't have to be attending a wedding to look fancy. Jazz up any outfit with a pipe cleaner buttonhole.
49. Dip Stick:
Use your pipe cleaner to see how deep a mud puddle is. Now try on a different mud puddle. Which puddle was the deepest?
50. Napkin Holder:
Create a napkin holder - perfect for themed parties!
51. Silly Spectacles:
Contract wearable spectacles using an extra-long pipe cleaner. Or use multiple pipe cleaners if you have them.
52. Balance Beam:
Use the pipe cleaner as a horizontal line, keep your feet behind the line, and see how far in front of the line you can place your foot, using only one hand to balance yourself.
53. Tricky Tweezers:
Bend the pipe cleaner to make tweezers and then challenge your child to pick up small, light items. Great for fine motor skills but takes skill to avoid bending the pipe cleaners when attempting to pick up the item.
Have your child lay on the floor and then use the pipe cleaner to 'measure' how many pipe cleaners' tall she is.
Have your child lay on the floor and then use the pipe cleaner to 'measure' how many pipe cleaners' tall she is.
Twist your pipe cleaner into a cute miniature coat hanger for Barbie's ever-expending wardrobe. Yep, I know, Barbie is evil, so you could always pretend this mini coat hanger is for 'the faries' or something.
56. Barbie Bling:
Use your pipe cleaner to bling up your Barbie (or anyone else if you're a Barbie-hater). Challenge your child to find as many creative ways to pimp up their toys as possible.
Can you get your pipe cleaner to stand up and stay up? Challenge your child to construct elaborate pipe cleaner sculptures that stay standing.
58. Gravity Take 2:
Now that you've got your sculpture to stand, can you make it stand AND rock? The boat below wouldn't work because it is unevenly weighted on one side. See if you can do better.
Create a drinks coaster by twisting the pipe cleaner around and around in a tight circle. This works best with a super-long pipe cleaner.
60. Pipe Cleaner Butterfly:
Follow the instructions to create a pip cleaner butterfly. See here.
61. Balancing Act:
Fine tune your preschooler's fine motor skills by inviting them to explore the concept of balancing. First, twist the pipe cleaner into a semi-circle and then challenge your child to 'hang' the pipe cleaner from various locations (this is a lot harder than it looks and requires uber concentration!)
62. Rodent Harness:
I wish I was joking, but this is a genuine suggestion. Create an adjustable harness for small or medium rodents using the step by step instructions here. Just don't tell anyone you did this.
63. Relay Race:
A relay race is a track and field event in which athletes run a pre-set distance carrying a baton before passing it onto the next runner. Use your pipe cleaner as the baton.
64. Fancy 3D Snowballs:
They won't melt, and they look awesome.
If you're religiously inclined why not create a pipe cleaner palm cross using the step by step instructions here. Discuss the significance of the crucifix to Christians.
66. Flower Power:
Create a pretty pipe cleaner flower using the step by step instructions here. It's harder than it looks!
67. Curtain Tie-Backs:
Use an extra long pipe-cleaner to create a curtain tie-back (beads optional).
68. Conductor's Baton:
Use the pipe cleaner as a conductor's baton and invite your child to sing (when you wave the baton high, they must sing high notes; when you wave it low, they must sing low notes). Now switch roles so your child can be the conductor.
69. Musical Notes:
Carry on with the music theme by using your pipe cleaner to construct musical notes. Now see if you can label them - e.g. Treble clef; Quarter note; Beamed note (see the full range here).
70. Clock Hands:
Bend the pipe cleaner to symbolise clock hands and take turns making and guessing what the time shown is.
71. Core Workout:
Laying on your back hold the pipe cleaner between your feet. Keep your legs straight and raise them up and pass the pipe cleaner to your hands. Drop your feet back down slowly, then back up, passing the pipe cleaner back to your feet. Continue for 15 repetitions.
Sit with feet straight out in front of you and with the pipe cleaner in your hands above your head reach down and stretch as far as you can towards your feet. Put the pipe cleaner down. Reach back up to the top and back down to pick up the pipe cleaner again. Repeat.
73. Sitting Bunny:
Follow the step-by-step instructions to create a cute little bunny, perfect for Easter.
74. Speech Bubbles:
Challenge your child to twist their pip cleaner into various speech bubble shapes, and then invite them to place their speech bubble over a word in the environment (on the page of a book, a sign, a newspaper, etc).
75. Star of David:
Try your hand at creating the Star of David, a Jewish religious symbol. Once made (if you ever get the thing made - it's difficult!) ask your child how many triangles they can identify. Look for big triangles and small triangles.
76. Twisty Treasure:
Another elaborate construction - treasure jewels. These look especially spectacular if you have a glittery pipe cleaner.
77. Pipe Cleaner Hunt - With A Twist:
You need a group of kiddos for this game. First, one player begins with the pip cleaner. The other children close their eyes or leave the room while he hides the pipe cleaner and then sits down. Next, the other children return to the room and begin hunting for it. The twist is that they must hunt with their eyes only - no moving around the room allowed - since the pipe cleaner is partially visible. The first player to spot the pipe cleaner sits down on the floor. In this way, the finger avoids letting the other players know where it is. One by one, as the other players see the pipe cleaner, they sit down. When all the players are sitting down (or after a period of a few minutes), the first one who saw the pipe cleaner whispers the whereabouts to the hider. If the hider confirms that the first spotter has found the pipe cleaner, the pipe cleaner is retreived from its hiding place and the first spotter takes a turn as the hider.
..Notice something? You've just inadvertently encouraged your kids to be quiet and sit still. Genius! (Don't say I never gave you anything).
78. Who's Got It:
This is another hunting game, so a group of kiddos is required. All players except one sit in a circle. The remaining player, who is the hunter, sits in the middle of the circle. The hunter closes her eyes and slowly counts to ten out loud. Meanwhile, the other players begin passing the pipe cleaner around the circle, keeping it hidden in their hands (you may have to curl it up). When she reaches ten, the hunter opens her eyes and - while the pipe cleaner is still being passed - tries to figure out who has it.
79. Symmetrical Snowflake:
Challenge your tween to make a snowflake that is symmetrical (very tricky!) Bonus points for adding a hanging hoop.
Use your pipe cleaner to structure an elaborate hairstyle!
Enhance your kid's concentration skills and fine motor dexterity by challenging them to 'braid' their pipe cleaner like a rope. You can find detailed instructions here.
82. Complex Heart:
Take your braiding to the next level with this complex heart design.
Once your child and their buddies are old enough to control the volume of their voices and keep a secret, they are sure to love this game of mischievous whispers. To play, participants sit in a circle on the floor. One player is chosen to start, and it is his job to come up with (but not say loud) a brief message. "I'm wearing blue underwear" is a good 'un. Whatever the message, the first player holds the pipe cleaner like a telephone and leans over whispering it into the ear of the player to her right. The player then passes the pipe cleaner and whispers the message to the player on his right, and so on until the message makes its way back to the first player.
84. Sign Language:
Use your pipe cleaner to teach sign language!
85. 3D Ring:
A beautiful ring is just a pipe cleaner away.
86. Mega 3D Ring:
Go Lady Gaga with a ring the lady herself would be proud of.
87. Paper Clip:
Transform your pipe cleaner into a paper clip. One useful thing to another!
88. Glam Up Your Bike Wheels:
Decorate a spoke by twisting your pipe cleaner around it. If you have several pip cleaners you could decorate every spoke.
89. Topsy Tail Hair Tool:
A topsy tail tool is a very helpful object for making specific hairstyles. It helps you in flipping your hair or in pulling it through something like a braid or ponytail to create a new style. Twist your pipe cleaner as show to create a topsy tail that your child can use on their hair to create a multitude of styles!
Challenge your tween to follow these elaborate instructions to create a detailed pipe cleaner teddy.
Explore the mathematical concept of angles with your child. Twist the pipe cleaner to show an angle, for example, 90 degrees, and invite your child to guess the angle. Alternate this activity by saying a number, and inviting your child to twist the pipe cleaner to demonstrate that angle.
92. Drink Charm:
Need wine or drink charms in a pinch so your guests don't mix up their glasses? Don't dash off to the store in a last minute attempt to stock up on charms; simply grab some pipe cleaners from your craft box and get your kid to fashion a few!
93. Pipe Cleaner Skeleton:
Create a pip cleaner skeleton and see if your child can name all the bones correctly.
94. Comedy Hair:
Give yourself comedy hair, just be sure to remove before you step into public.
95. Hair Curler:
Okay, this one is more strategic than the above. Twist damp hair around a pipe cleaner and leave to dry. You'll end up with perm-style curls.
96. Pipe Cleaner Name:
Using a super-long pipe cleaner, challenge your child to create their entire name. This activity mirrors handwriting. The finished item is ideal for labelling personal belongings or using as a bedroom door sign!
97. Cellphone Stand:
Twist your pipe cleaner in half, then curl over the ends to make a nifty stand for your cellphone or tablet (image below shows paper clip but this activity actually works better with a pipe cleaner!)
98. To Infinity:
The concept of infinity is difficult for even adult to completely understand, but your teen should be old enough now to grasp the basics. Twist your pipe cleaner into the official 'infinity symbol' (below). Explain that infinity is an abstract concept describing something without any limit. Why does your teen think this symbol represents infinity? What things can your teen name that have no beginning and no end? (e.g. a circle).
You'll need an extra-long pipe cleaner for these bad boys (or a few regular pipe cleaners will do). Invite your teen to design their own high fashion sandals. For sure, they ain't functional but Tyra Banks would be all over them.
100. Decorate Earrings:
Turn perfectly reasonable-looking earrings into these monstrosities.
What?! I've ran out of ideas. Sue me ;)
Hope y'all enjoyed the timeline. Now, before you depart.. something to bear in mind:
Loved it? Pin it for later!