My quest to distract Raine from TV has led me to several interesting activities that I normally wouldn’t have done (or, in my imaginary Perfect Mommy world, would have done, along with a string of other exciting, brain-stimulating, character-developing activities). Making pipe cleaner creatures sounded very easy. But as I discovered, I am not the artsy-craftsy mama that I thought I was. Despite that minor setback, Raine and I had fun, and we did manage to come up with some pretty cute creations. Plus, this project also started her craft kit, and it’s been keeping her occupied the past days. You go, Mommy!
Age Group: 3+
Preparation needed: you will have to buy some materials, or mooch them off someone else.
Difficulty of preparation: materials are easy to find; if you’re clueless like me, you may have to practice a little, but it’s basically a no-brainer.
Time needed: probably 15 minutes, unless your kids really enjoy it, then more. If they really enjoyed it the way Raine did, then I’d say three days.
- Pipe cleaners – you can get these from craft shops and some bookstores (I saw some in National’s scrapbooking section). I got ours from the Japan Home Store in Park Square 1, Makati for only Php66 a pack (got all the craft materials listed here from Japan Home Store—good deal, I’d think).
- Popsicle sticks—also from craft shops and bookstores. Or if you go on almost-daily popsicle walks like Raine and I do (our afternoon walk-abouts around the village include getting a popsicle at the neighborhood drugstore), you could wash and collect the popsicle sticks. Great way to teach recycling too.
- Googly eyes—you know, those plastic eye things that move around. You could also draw and cut out eyes, if you can’t find any.
- Pompoms—various sizes and colors. Cotton could work too.
- Fat pencils, thick markers, thin glasses—anything cylindrical in various diameters, to help with the winding (optional, if you’re good with your hands)
- Other things that you think could be used. I save toilet paper tubes, which are not only useful as pretend telescopes, but could be made into animal bodies (with pipe cleaner limbs) as well. Glitter, ribbons, scraps of paper and cloth—anything goes.
What to Do:
- If you’ve never done anything like this before, it might be a good idea to check out some examples before your get into the thick of things. Creative Kids at Home has great, easy-to-follow instructions. She also has another page on basic shapes you might want to master before creating your—well—masterpieces.
- Make your basic shapes—spirals, twisted pipes, bundles—whatever your imagination can come up with. If you don’t like them (and I tell Raine this all the time, because she has the tendency to get frustrated) you can always straighten out the pipe cleaners and start again. Raine hasn’t quite gotten the hang of making the spirals yet, so I made several for her to assemble. She used them to make animal body parts.
- Now the fun part—assembly! Raine loved sticking the eyes on the large pompoms, which we then stuck on the spiral-shaped pipe cleaners. Smaller pompoms gave her creations noses and ears. You can also add ribbons (I didn’t have any on hand), glitters, or any other frou-frou. Use good, non-toxic craft glue to stick pieces together. I let Raine squeeze out glue from the bottle, so things got a little messy. But you can do the glue-application if your child hasn’t mastered it yet, or you want things neater.
- You can also glue the pompoms or eyes on the popsicle sticks. One of Raine’s favorites from this session was her Elmo-on-a-stick. Twist a couple of pipe cleaners around the stick for arms and legs.
- Finally, let your imagination run wild. Rather, let your child’s imagination run wild. Raine’s favorite product (even more than her Elmo) was a whole bunch of ‘balloons’—just a pipe cleaner twisted around a popsicle stick. We made several, and she carted the bunch around with her for several days. She had grand adventures with them—they let her fly; she distributed them to her friends (me and her Daddy, as well as her posse of imaginaries); she had a birthday party (for her parties mean balloons); we counted them and identified colors—those plain (and I must admit, unattractive, from a craftsy point of view) pipe cleaner balloons were hands down the best thing ever (I would have voted for the dog).