Sometimes the simplest (and cheapest) concepts can be the most fun, like this preschool activity using just pipe cleaners and a colander to build fine motor skills—those skills that involve the small muscles of the body such as those in the fingers. It’s important for toddlers and preschoolers to practice fine motor skills to build the coordination they’ll need to learn how to write as well as to develop hand-eye coordination that will help them play sports, read and write, draw, and do any number of other activities.
Donovan loves this particular activity for several reasons. The pipe cleaners are fuzzy and bendy and colorful, which makes them fun to play with by themselves. He gets to play with the colander, which is usually off limits since it’s a kitchen item we use frequently. And he feels very accomplished and proud of himself when he gets them all threaded through. So, I pull out a handful of pipe cleaners—you can get a pack with 50 or 100 pipe cleaners for just a dollar or two depending on where you buy them—and give him the colander and he goes to work.
It takes him a certain amount of concentration, even though we’ve been doing this since he was 18 month old. Because the pipe cleaners bend so easily, he has to carefully thread them through the holes, using his thumb and forefinger in a pincer grasp in the same manner that he will hold a pencil when writing. Avery gets in on the action, too! He’s not coordinated enough to thread the pipe cleaners through the colander yet, but he loves the way they feel. And once all the pipe cleaners have been threaded, Donovan found that it makes a fun hat, too!