Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pipe Cleaner Jewelery

This was a fast and easy craft we did one morning during William's nap.  I like two things about this craft in particular.  First, the product is something she can actually play use.  Often we make objects that are fun at the time, but too fragile to play with or that have to be kept away from Mr. Grabby Hands William.  These are functional and durable.  I wouldn't give one to William, but if he picks it up off the floor it isn't going to fall apart immediately.  Secondly, these are great fine motor practice.  I bought Natalie a threading bead set for Christmas, but she has next to no interest in it.  Making bracelets, she had lots of interest in.

What You Need:
1 pipe clearner (also known as fuzzy sticks) per bracelet
Pony beads

What to Do:
As I said, this is fast and easy.  At just over 2 1/2, Natalie could do almost all of this on her own.

I measured the pipe cleaner around Natalie's wrist and cut it with a strong pair of scissors.  Make sure to leave at least an inch to twist it close when you are done. 

Next, I bent the end of the pipe cleaner so the beads wouldn't fall off.  This wasn't that necessary because the pipe cleaner was thick enough to keep the beads from sliding right off. 

I put out a variety of beads for Natalie to choose from.  She picked them up and threaded them on all by herself.  The stiffness of the pipe cleaner made this easier than when we made other bracelets using elastic thread later in the week.  (See a picture of those at the very bottom of this post).

Once Natalie filled the pipe cleaner with beads, I twisted the end closed.  After doing a couple, I realized I could wrap the extra around itself and cover one of the rough edges.  I then tucked the second end in under the last bead on one side.  

Substitutions / Alterations:
Making bracelets can be very diverse.  You could make them differently everyday for a month probably.  Instead of pony beads, you could use circle cereals, dry pasta, buttons, and a whole assortment of other types of beads.  Instead of pipe cleaners, you could use yard, plastic thread (we called it gimp growing up), twine, elastic thread, embroidery floss, or regular old thread.  The materials you use should be based on your child's age and skill level.  A very young child can start with edible materials on thick, stiff "thread."  In contrast, a 10 year old could be challenged with thread and buttons possibly even using a needle. 

I let Natalie choose her beads at random.  But, you can do all sorts of patterns depending on your materials. 

You could also make rings instead of bracelets.  We glued a button on to make a ring (see picture at the end of this post), but you could put on a few beads instead.  

  • This is a great opportunity for talking about colors.  While a child old enough to use colored beads might already have mastered the names of the basic colors, you could talk about the shades and more complex names (like navy, aqua, and lavender).
  • Couting is also easy to practice while threading.  You can count the beads as you put them on the string.  Or you could go back and count them.  Or you could count the ones of a certain color or size.  This also leads into other math, such as adding two groups of beads of different colors or subtracting all the small beads from the total number.  
  • Before making the bracelet, you could play with sorting and matching.  
  • Depending on the type of materials you use, you can sequence the beads by size.
  • You can practice the colors of the rainbow.
  • You can start a pattern and ask your child to continue it to the end of the bracelet.  For the younger kids, you'd just alternate between two or three colors.  As kids get older, you can make the pattern more complex by varying the number of beads and their size or shape as well. 
  • If you use beads with letters on them, you can practice letter identification or spelling.  We made bracelets with Natalie's and some of her friends' names on them.  See an example below.
  • While not a school skill, making these bracelets is a great oppertunity to practice giving.  Natalie wanted to keep making bracelets, but she really didn't need more than one or two.  So, we made more for her friends and she got to enjoy giving away something she had made for someone else. 

Same idea but with letter beads and elastic thread.

Pipe cleaner rings

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