I love pipe cleaners–there are a million things you can do with them! They come in tons of colors, are cheap and readily available at your local craft or dollar store. My three year-old son is just starting to discover dinosaurs (his favorite: the T-Rex. How do boys learn this stuff? Is it just part of their DNA?), so we decided to make these dinosaur toys out of pipe cleaners, inspired by a Family Fun magazine activity. Since my son likes the Tyrannosaurus Rex, we modified it to try to make the Dino look more like a T-Rex.
This is a great make-anytime activity that you can do with minimal preparation. Pull this one out next time your kid says she’s bored, or on a rainy day.
- Pipe cleaners (10 or more)
- Googly eyes
- Pencil and large marker
- Glue, optional
Time Needed: 15 minutes
Ages: 3 and up. Your 3 year-old will need help, but will probably really enjoy the end result! Also, pipecleaners are easy to bend, so these toys won’t last for long with younger kids, but it’s still a fun activity.
- Connect three pipe cleaners end-to-end, and wrap around a large marker to create the body.
- Connect two pipe cleaners end-to-end, and wrap half around a pen or pencil, overlapping the pipe cleaner onto itself to create the head, and then coil the rest around to form the neck.
- Attach neck to body, by bending pipe cleaner, or using glue if desired.
- Coil one pipe cleaner around pen or pencil to form tail, leaving about an inch straight for attaching to body.
- For arms, bend one pipe cleaner into a V-shape, and coil each half around pen. Attach to body.
- Create T-Rex legs in a similar manner you used to make the head, using the thicker “head” part as the T-Rex thighs. (Mine are wonky – I only had 8 pipe cleaners in red, so I couldn’t make the legs as beefy as I wanted. The one-pipe cleaner legs don’t hold the T-Rex up very well!)
- Attach googly eyes with glue. I used “quick dry” craft glue, and honestly, it didn’t work that well with the pipe cleaner fuzz. You might be better off with hot glue (although, this is a job for you, not your kids. I know you already know that.)
I would like to experiment with this project a bit more to try to stabilize the pipe cleaners more. They are great because they’re so easy to bend and shape, but that’s also a drawback. It’s hard to maintain the shape when you continue to handle the coils. (Maybe this is just a grown-up perfectionism problem, though… I’m pretty sure kids don’t care. In fact, my son was stretching out the neck and making the dinosaur move around, and he didn’t care that it didn’t maintain its original shape!) If you make any good discoveries when you make yours, please share!
Heather Mann is a regular contributor at Make and Takes. She’s is the mother of two boys under age 3, and another boy on the way. She publishes Dollar Store Crafts, a daily blog devoted to hip crafting at dollar store prices, CROQ Zine, a print magazine devoted to hip crafting, and also CraftFail, a community blog that encourages crafters to share their not-so-successful craft attempts.