Discovery Box 6: Pipe Cleaners

This was a really fun activity that both girls enjoyed equally. Little Pop enjoys the Discovery Boxes too now, even though she can’t always manipulate the materials in the same way as her big sister and it’s very interesting to note the comparisons between what they can do.

 These lovely, colourful and sparkly pipe cleaners cost £1 and we picked them up on our bargain hunt yesterday. I gave the girls a couple of colanders, the bag of pipe cleaners and a strange giant lolly pop that had a series of little holes inside it where the mini lollies had been. This new “toy” proved extremely popular!

 As usual with these Discovery Box games, my role was to sit back and watch what they would do with the materials, intervening only if asked or to suggest some new ideas if they ran out of them. This turned out a little bit like the straws box (read here) with the pipe cleaners stuck into all the holes and looking like amazing works of sculptural art!

 Of course, she just HAD to put it on and make it a hat too!

 The giant lolly became a flower and a lolly pop and was sniffed and licked accordingly 😉

 After a little while I started to link the cleaners from one colander to the next and she joined in too.

 Then she ran off and came back with a big lump of the sand play dough we made the other day (note to self: hide all play dough in cupboards from now on!)

 She added this to the colander and then stuck all of the pipe cleaners into it, turning it over to see if any had come all the way through the dough and out of the holes underneath.

 Manipulating them was actually really hard work and she found if she didn’t hold tight at the bottom of the stem, she couldn’t get them through and gave up. I had to help her do it a few times and demonstrate where to hold them. Great for those fine motor skills!

 Serious work afoot, threading in from the side. This requires lying down and really concentrating!

Little Pop just loved to pick up the pipe cleaners and feel them with her fingers. The chenille ones were remarkably soft while the sparkly ones were really rough and spiky. Her favourite game was for me to fill up the giant lolly and for her to pick them out, one by one, and throw them on the floor. Followed by lots of chuckles.

These have now stayed out in a basket in the room as both girls are enjoying going back to them so often and collecting them, throwing them and scrunching them up!

If you use pipe cleaners be careful because sometimes the ends can be sharp.

This activity is good for:
* exploration and investigation of new materials
* promoting creativity and independent thinking
* sensory and tactile play
* hand to eye co-ordination
* developing fine motor skills
* vocabulary: texture and descriptions


  1. says

    Hi, found you through the Tot School site.

    This is great! My Peeper (almost 28 mos) loves our collection of pipecleaners and pom-poms.

    I’ll have to throw in the colander and see what she comes up with!

  2. says

    they look like they are having a ball!! we use pipe cleaners for making little sculptures but have never expanded their use to anything else. I should get a big bag and just see what they come up with :-)

  3. Anonymous says

    THANK YOU for this post. My 3 year old son rarely plays by himself but he’s currently absorbed with a load of straws, pipe cleaners, a grater and a colandar and having a fantastic time. Love the blog, keep it up!