Fine Motor: Pipe cleaners on a String

Apr 25, 2012

Ages: 2-6+
Materials: Pipecleaners, string/line

In order to further develop fine motor skills as well as working on problem solving and creativity, I rigged up a line between 2 chairs*, hung a couple of pipe cleaners from it and presented my daughter with a bunch of pipe cleaners of her own as an Invitation to Play.
*If using in a classroom setting or with children who might pull on the string and drag the chairs down, be sure to affix the line between 2 areas that can't easily move.

Would you believe this simple idea of hanging Pipe cleaners on a string could keep your little one occupied and learning for ages? Well, in this case, it did. I loved the open-endedness of this activity as well as the room for so much extension and other activities. See "Handy Tips" below the pictures for more ideas.

hanging pipecleaners, activity for kids, fine motor activity for kids
 Your child could create their own pipe cleaner sculpture using this method

 Practicing different loops and twists to make the pipe cleaners stay on the line while pulling the string down and closer to her body

 Having the rope/string at eye level present a different view and experience for the child. It dictates where their hands need to be

The hardest part for Madeline was when she decided to make a "swing" out of the pipe cleaners. Attaching a pipe cleaner across 2 hanging pipe cleaners presented her with a problem solving challenge and gave her hand eye coordination a good work out.

Handy Tips

- Simplify this activity by giving yonger children a much lower line or a small basket or collander to poke pipe cleaners in and wrap them around

- Extend this activity by hanging string at different heights or at different angles to present different challenges for children. Hang a few intersecting lines and add some extra materials like large threading beads or patty pans and watch their creativity 

- Use this activity to teach patterns, colours or numbers if you like. Just show/explain your focus to the child and provide the colours or amount of pipe cleaners required. 

For example:
- Instruct your child to hang/attach only Blue pipe cleaners etc,
- Have them hang them in a pattern (red, then blue, then green, then red, then blue, then green...what comes next? etc),
- Have them hang 5 pipe cleaners across and 3 pipe cleaners down etc. 

- Listen to your child talk as they go through their experiences. This will help you determine where they are at with their learning, knowledge and understanding and help you to develop the activity (or future activities) to their level and interests.

- Demonstrate some of the techniques that could be used to attach and hang pipe cleaners on one another if your child is struggling or asks for assistance

Happy playing,
Debs :)

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  1. It's always the simple stuff that the little ones enjoy the most! Great simple idea! Thanks for sharing

    1. I agree. When I put more effort into an activity it never goes as well as I'm expecting/hoping. The little, easy to set up experiences often end up the most rewarding. (Take, letting them loose on a pile of mud for an example! haha.) Thanks for the comment.

  2. I love the way your little model has to hold her mouth "just right"!

  3. I love the simplicity of this activity! With a little modification for their age i think the twins would love it...and as i seem to find a few pipe cleaners a day on the floor we should be set lol! (Where do those things hide at night?)

    1. haha- I find them everywhere! I'm sure they crawl at night lol. It's absolutely modifiable for younger kids. Hope they enjoy :)

  4. What a great idea!!!!! Perfect for little ones to practice their fine motor skills.

    1. Thanks Margaret and thanks for taking the time to comment :)

  5. great idea!!! ill be setting this up tomorrow for my kids

  6. Fantastic activity!!! So simple, but genius at the same time!

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Thanks for taking the time to comment! I love reading them all.