No Prep Fine Motor Pipe Cleaner Activity

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Pipe cleaners plus a colander equals tons of fine motor busy play for toddlers! Try this simple creative fine motor pipe cleaner activity!

I was so excited to do this fine motor activity with Louis! Keep scrolling to see my original activity with Henry a few years ago.

This is a very simple activity. One of the most basic fine motor activities actually.

No Prep Fine Motor Pipe Cleaner Activity

To set up your own fine motor pipe cleaner busy play activity, you’ll need:

  • Colander
  • Pipe Cleaners

And that’s it!

We’ve put together our best Simplest Activities just for you!

Set the two supplies out to explore, and you’re all set up! Nothing to do otherwise.

Keep toddlers super busy with a no prep fine motor pipe cleaner activity!

Really let your child take the lead and step back.

Louis poked the pipe cleaners through the holes.

I had thought that he would go from the outside into the colander and across, then out the other side. Instead, he threaded the pipe cleaners from the inside.

From the inside of the colander, Louis stuck a pipe cleaner through a hole and then poked the other side of the pipe cleaner through another hole in the colander.

Originally, I had envisioned this as a threading activity. It’s not quite threading, but definitely is working on hand/eye coordination plus fine motor skills, like aiming and working in small space.

Honestly, he had fun and that’s kind of all that matters in the end.

Just pipe cleaners and a colander - such a simple fine motor activity for toddlers to try.

Add Some Extra Learning to Simple Busy Play

Louis is big into recognizing colors right now. We talked about the colors of the pipe cleaners as he chose one to poke in.

Set up a no prep activity with just a few always on-hand supplies!

He’d tell me the color he was looking for and grab it, or I’d suggest a color for him to find.

Add some color recognition to your fine motor pipe cleaner busy play activity!

Louis didn’t poke nearly as many pipe cleaners in as Henry had (see below). Instead, he pulled them all out and started again.

Push, thread, pull, and repeat! Louis had so much fun with this independent busy play activity!

New Kid, Same Fun Busy Play Activity

Which brings up a point that I often forget myself. There is so much opportunity in going back and doing activities you already have tried.

With the same kid, different ages and different circumstances mean it’ll end up different! It’s also fun to see how a younger sibling takes an older sibling’s favorite activity into a totally different direction.

Admittedly, I often forget to bust out these older ideas with the younger kids. I often default to dreaming up new ideas instead.

Check out my honest take on why I’m not the Oprah of Motherhood.

Henry Loved Fine Motor Pipe Cleaners!

We did this same pipe cleaner fine motor activity as a go-to busy play idea with Henry a few years back!

I know Henry’s fine motor skills have never been his strongest trait. So, I try to sneak in some fun here and there that works his fingers.

We love sneaky fine motor skills work like Dandelion Hat and Colored Vinegar and Baking Soda Experiment.

But this activity was not intended for Henry at all. I originally set out this colander and some pipe cleaners for George to explore.

I did have Tinkerlab’s Colander Sculpture and The Imagination Tree’s Pipe Cleaner Discovery Box in the back of my mind. But I completely intended for this activity to be about George exploring the pipe cleaners.

Set out pipe cleaners and a colander for an afternoon of fine motor busy play!

I received a free box of craft goodies from the other day and this Ultimate Fuzzy Kit was part of it. 

We got a lot of pipe cleaners in various forms: regular ones, glittery shiny ones, and super fuzzy tiger-like ones. There were also pom poms and even some googly eyes in our kit..

George explored the pipe cleaners a little bit at first. Mainly just feeling them out and swinging them around. 

A few went in his mouth here and there to check them out completely.

Pipe cleaners are fun for babies, too!

But that was the extent of it that morning.

Exploring Turns to Fine Motor Fun

Later at night, Henry found the stash of pipe cleaners! He thought it was cool that he could bend them into happy and sad faces. 

He acted out each one as he made the faces.)

Bend, twist, and explore with pipe cleaners!

Henry struggled with making an angry face and he said he couldn’t. 

Then he saw the colander and his eyes lit up. Henry soon saw that he could stick the pipe cleaners into the colander and they’d stay put.

Just pipe cleaners and a colander - such a simple fine motor activity for toddlers to try.

George did pop by to check out what big brother was up to.

Fine motor pipe cleaner busy play is great for keeping kids of all ages entertained!

George continued his exploration when he got a hold of one of the fuzzy pipe cleaners.

George loves exploring pipe cleaners, too!

He liked how it felt on his neck. He kept wrapping it around and around.

Henry kept at his pipe cleaners. I was amazed at his concentration to stick those pipe cleaners in the holes.

Just pipe cleaners and a colander - such a simple fine motor activity for toddlers to try.

I had only set a few pipe cleaners out for George. Henry quickly used all of them up and asked for more. 

By the time he was done, he had used the entire bag of pipe cleaners!

He told me he was making a “decoration.” Later, he told me it was for Grandpa, too.

Just pipe cleaners and a colander - such a simple fine motor activity for toddlers to try.

Sneak in Fine Motor Play

Some accidental fine motor practice happened without me even trying. It goes to show how play should be the center of a child’s life and learning just happens around it.

Henry really wanted to fill every single hole of the colander. I didn’t have enough pipe cleaners for that though.

Keep kids busy with a no prep fine motor pipe cleaner activity!

The next day, Grandpa stopped by and Henry presented him with his “decoration.”

Just pipe cleaners and a colander - such a simple fine motor activity for toddlers to try.

Grandpa was thrilled. Henry really wanted him to take it home with him.

What activity do you pull out for independent busy play? We’d love to peek at your cool ideas!