I finally made a harder version of the pipe cleaner toy that J loves. It was one of the first activities I found when websurfing but of course I didn’t save the link so I have no idea where the idea came from. ETA: I found the link!
This particular one is actually a gift for a friend’s little girl, but I let J give it a trial run. I should’ve made this for him when he was younger. It would’ve been a great challege for colors; now it’s just good practice. The original pipe cleaner toy is SUCH a huge hit and has been for a full year now. It is probably the top homemade toy in our house (or at least in the top three). As he got older of course it got easier. Adding the color matching to the toy makes gives him one more challenge to the task.
This particular toy is an empty oatmeal container. I used a knife to cut holes into the lid and added some reinforcements that I colored to match the pipe cleaners. Done!
UPDATED: A reader just asked me a great question that might help others out too!
How do you avoid the sharp end of the pipe cleaner?
I’ve always folded and twists the ends over to keep from that sharp exposed wire. When J was really young, I twisted them in half since that length was enough of a challenge for his fine motor skills. As he got older I could lengthen the pipe cleaners and just fold down the edge. This doesn’t remedy the problem completely, but it keeps their fingers from getting poked. It’s still something you want to watch since eyes can get poked. Oh and I’ve found the cheaper pipe cleaners have less fluff around them which means the ends poke more. You could also use colorful straws instead of the pipe cleaners. That might be a great option for some. I preferred pipe cleaners since we used this activity on planes most often and I liked that the pipe cleaners could be used for lots of other activities on the trip as well.
Age attempted: with colors, 24 months but could be done much much earlier; without colors, around 12 months