Travel Activities - Pipe Cleaner Crafts

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Pipe Cleaner Animals
by Laurel Smith

A Crafty Activity for the Road

Here's a fun and easy, no-mess activity for a long car trip or a rainy day.  All you need is an inexpensive pack of pipe cleaners, a nail clipper and a little imagination! 

Use pipe cleaners of different colors to create all kinds of creatures that you can later use for imaginative play. 

Tips for creating creatures with pipe cleaners:

  • Cut into different lengths using a nail clipper or short pair of old scissors. 
  • Twist them around a pencil to create a coil
  • Connect them end to end by twisting the ends together
  • Create a "candy-cane" effect by twisting two different colors together
Most creatures can be made by creating parts and then putting them together. Start with some fuzzy chicks. Make a whole flock.  Next, try a fuzzy pink teddy bear, and then move on to mice, dogs, penguins, or other zoo animals. Try making bendable people of different professions, or characters from their favorite shows that can be used as action figures. 

Don't get hung up if you don't have the "right" color pipe cleaners for certain creatures. Remember that penguins and lions can be purple too!
Save your creatures and use them for imaginative play.  On a recent trip, my daughters quickly amassed a large collection of creatures during our long drive.  They began giving them names and propping them in nooks and crannies all over the car.  Eventually they even constructed a basket to contain their creative zoo. 

At the end of the trip, we put them all in a plastic zip baggie to use next time.

This activity seemed to lend itself well to girls, especially because they seem to enjoy the "craftiness" of this activity, but boys will enjoy it too. 

For specific ideas to get you started, there are some creative books on the subject, loaded with pictures and instructions.

My family really enjoyed the book Pipe Cleaners Gone Crazy:  A Complete Guide to Bending Fuzzy Sticks.  It's spiral-bound and even includes a set of pipe cleaners, although we bought more since there weren't really enough for more than one child. It's recommended for ages 4-8, but even my crafty 12-year-old really enjoyed it.  This activity kept my girls busy in the car for over two hours!

Pipe Cleaners Gone Crazy!

For more craft ideas using common household materials, see my article on Aluminum Foil Art!

Don't miss all the Printable Car Games at

--Laurel (Road Trip Mom)

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See more of my videos on pipe cleaner animals on my YouTube channel!


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