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9 Pipe Cleaner Crafts for Kids

Erica Loop
April 6, 2015

Bend them, press them, twist them and even paint with these artsy items!

Pipe cleaner crafts have been around since you first struggled to hold a crayon! Instead of doing the same old activities, put a twist on this classic craft component and try something totally new. So, what can the kiddos do with that giant bundle of pipe cleaners you just bought? Check out these crafty creations.

  1. Beaded Buddies and Bracelets
    Georgina Bomer is the creator of the children's arts and crafts blog Craftulate and the author of "Art, Craft and Cooking With Toddlers." She suggests stringing beads onto pipe cleaners to make a Pipe Cleaner and Bead Inchworm. Another option is to take the bead-covered pipe cleaner and fasten it into a circle for a best-buds bracelet to trade with friends!
  2. Tiny Trees
    Wind a green pipe cleaner loosely around your child's pointer finger. Let her gently pull it off and shape it so that the top is smaller than the bottom. What do you get? A teeny-tiny tree! Make a few for a pint-sized forest, or tie the tops to thin ribbon and make holiday ornaments.
  3. Model Fossils
    Curl, curve or cut the pipe cleaners into prehistoric creature skeletons. Press them into modeling or air-dry clay, making indentations. When your child peels the pipe cleaners out, a faux fossil imprint is left behind. If you need to cut the pipe cleaners, Bomer suggests putting down the scissors and using wire cutters instead. This makes it easier to get a clean cut.
  4. Silvery Snowflakes
    Have your child stack at least four pipe cleaners in opposite directions or diagonals, all crossing in the center. Twist them together at the central point to make a snowflake shape. Now add a special sparkle: Pour a pool of metallic silver paint onto a paper plate. (If you don't have metallic paint, add silver glitter to light blue tempera.) You or your child can press the pipe cleaner snowflake into the paint, flipping it over to cover both sides. Hang it up with fishing line.
  5. Shape Mobile
    Between 4 and 5, most children have the fine motor skills to trace geometric shapes, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. To keep building this ability, have your child bend the pipe cleaners into circles, squares, triangles and diamonds. Older kids can create octagons, decagons and other polygons. Tie the shapes to yarn, and hang them from a stick or wooden dowel to make a motion-filled mobile!
  6. Board Books
    DIY books are easy pipe cleaner crafts that kids of all ages can make. Cut two pieces of cardboard into squares. Have your child cut a few sheets of paper to match the cardboard shapes. Stack the paper in between the cardboard pieces. Punch three or more holes on the left side of the cardboard-and-paper stack. Break out the pipe cleaners, and have your child weave them through the holes to bind the book. He can undo the pipe cleaners later to add more pages. Glue photos to the pages or have your child do the drawings himself.
  7. Name Plate
    Between preschool and first grade, young children are beginning to associate letter symbols with sounds and are learning how to write, according to the Bank Street College of Education. Help your child along with her literacy learning by having her bend pipe cleaners into letters. She can bend each letter of her name and glue the letters onto a piece of painted cardboard or thin plywood.
  8. Stamps of All Shapes
    Samantha Soper-Caetano, creator of the early childhood education blog Stir the Wonder and co-author of "99 Fine Motor Ideas for Ages 1 to 5," suggests using pipe cleaners to make stamps. Your child can bend pipe cleaners into different shapes and then dip the shapes into paint. Then press the paint-covered shape onto paper to make stamped prints.
  9. Imaginative Accessories
    Soper-Caetano says, "Pipe cleaners are a wonderful craft material for kids of all ages! They can be twisted to create dress-up accessories like glasses or tiaras." Twist a few together to create a custom-made accessory.

Looking for more activities that use budget-friendly items? Check out these 5 Free Kids' Games That Use Household Objects.

Erica Loop is a mom, parenting writer and educator with an M.S. in child development. When she's not busy teaching, she's creating kids' activities for her blog Mini Monets and Mommies.

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