I have coordinated a busy bag swap in my circle of friends with toddlers, and so I’ve been on the hunt for small, easily containable projects that would be fun for little hands.  I had the idea for this pipe cleaner feeding project, inspired by one using a colander that a friend made.  I wanted something more transportable.

I tried to make this originally using a small oatmeal container and longer pipe cleaners, and it went over like a lead balloon.  I didn’t have the time to drill holes when I made it, so I just punched little cross holes in it, like straw holes. The pipe cleaners did not feed easily, and were so long that they took more coordination than my 2.5 year old has.  He ended up becoming bored and frustrated within a minute.  Not at all what I was going for.

When I saw a spice container in my kitchen, I felt like I’d struck gold.  The little star shaped hole design was perfect!

Here is the reboot.  You probably even have the materials already in your home!  No drilling or fancy tools needed.

This project…
-Promotes fine motor skills
-Promotes color recognition
-Promotes sorting and organizational skills
-Is pocket sized

Perfect pocket-sized entertainment!

Perfect pocket-sized entertainment!

You will need:
-Small, clean spice container with a shaker cap, (most of us have an expired spice or two in the cabinet.  Buy some new ginger or pie seasoning and use the old container!)
-Several pipe cleaners, preferably in some fun colors
-Fingernail clippers

Isn't that star great?

Isn’t that star great?

Here are the instructions, and I hope you’re ready.  They’re pretty intense.

Using the fingernail clippers, clip 1 1/2″ lengths of pipe cleaners until you have the desired amount.  Tada!  You’re done.

Don't want to ruin your good scissors?  No need to raid your husband's tool box for wire cutters!  Look no further than your bathroom drawer.  Fingernail clippers are a quick, easy way to cut pipe cleaners and small wire, like floral wire.

Don’t want to ruin your good scissors? No need to raid your husband’s tool box for wire cutters! Look no further than your bathroom drawer. Fingernail clippers are a quick, easy way to cut pipe cleaners and small wire, like floral wire.

If you want to use a larger container, that’s fine, but the spice cap already has holes, which is perfect.  I would still keep your pipe cleaners short.  The little stubby pieces are harder to bend, and take less time and patience to feed into the container.

A word of caution…
I feel the need to state the obvious here, because we wouldn’t want any littles getting hurt.  Wait to introduce this activity until your child is no longer fascinated by putting things in their mouth.  The short pipe cleaner pieces are choking hazards.  Also, help your child learn to use caution, as pipe cleaner ends are sharp and pokey, and could scratch them if they push too hard!  As always, use your best judgment and be a great parent, as I’m sure you’re already doing.

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As you can see, the project was a hit.  My son wouldn’t even let me finish taking pictures, because he wanted to play with it.  SUCCESS!!!