Baby Play: Pipe Cleaner Colander Hats

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

Babies are naturally curious about the world around them. Pipe cleaners are a fascinating tool that has an interesting texture and can be bent into a variety of shapes. The holes in a standard kitchen colander are large enough for a pipe cleaner to be woven through with nimble finger muscles.

These colander sculptures very quickly turn into awesome hats. The littlest babies enjoy putting the plain colander on their (and their adult’s) head; the older ones like making all kinds of fascinating creations by weaving the pipe cleaners into the tiny holes.

How to Make

Materials: colanders, pipe cleaners

Steps:

  • Make one sample.
  • Put out collection of pipe cleaners and colanders.

Cost: $10+ (cost depends on audience size)

  • Colanders (Dollar Tree)
  • Pipe Cleaners (packs at Dollar Tree or Walmart)

Time to Make: < 5 minutes

Pro-Tip: I typically make a sample of this particular activity to help parents understand the goal, especially is this is one of a collection of activities. Otherwise I end up with a lot of confused faces (and colander hats–there are always colander hats).

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • What do the pipe cleaners feel like?
  • What direction are you pulling that pipe cleaner?
  • What color should we add next?
  • What did you make? Is that a hat? A porcupine?
  • Can you find a purple pipe cleaner?
  • Can you twist two pipe cleaners together?
  • Can you make the pipe cleaner into a happy face?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:

Around
Behind
Bend
Between
Colander
Curl

Knot
Over
Poke
Prickly
Sharp
Straight

Strainer
Thread
Through
Tug
Under
Wrap

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