Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fine Motor Counting with Pipe Cleaners

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The thought for this cute pipe cleaner caterpillar came from our love of the story The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and my mission to use up some of our empty plastic egg cartons (like our Valentine cups for our sensory bin, fine motor feathery birds, and our see through familiar item shakers). I have decorated many egg carton caterpillars in my days as a camp counselor, but this one is a little different. Not only our painting method, taking advantage of the clear plastic, but also the learning activities that are a part of it. 

The set of acrylic paints we have has the primary colors, and none of the secondary colors, so before this activity, we did a little color mixing. This is the first time I have done color mixing with Skyler, and it was a lot of fun. We just put little blobs of paint on some plastic wrap, and then Skyler helped me mix them up with paint brushes. When he saw the changing colors, he was able to tell me what they were! Saying his colors is something he does a lot lately, and I always make sure to use colors as descriptive words when speaking with him.

For this activity, we only needed to use the green paint, but we used the other paint colors to start another activity as well. Skyler got to work, painting the inside of all the egg carton cups. 

Skyler very carefully filled in all the cups with the green paint, and after it dried, I was able to assemble our new fine motor friend. 

With our fine motor birds with feathers, I just needed a small hole for the feathers and used the same nail as pictured above, but with the pipe cleaners, I knew there needed to be bigger holes. To create the holes, I started with the nail, and then twisted the screw into the hole until it was big enough. I also gave our critter some google eyes.

For our pipe cleaners, I cut them about pinky length. This would be a great step for older children to do, pipe cleaners are fun to cut - they make a great noise and snap off super quick!

Not only is this activity great for fine motor skills, using the pipe cleaners to thread into the holes, but I also made this a counting activity. On the tops of the cups I did the holes from numbers one through five (I also made holes along the sides). We have been talking a lot about counting lately, not only with The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but many other books and just in our day to day routines. Skyler usually only counts "One, two" and sometimes will say three, but he loves to point while I count. 

Our finished caterpillar looks so cute, just with the numbered tops filled, or completely filled!

It's so fluffy!
We had a very fun afternoon playing with our fine motor caterpillar. Skyler started playing with it sitting on the carpet and then picked it up and tried to play with it that way, so I set out our side table and he stood there and played with it for a long time, then would run off and come back when he felt like it. We talked about the colors of the pipe cleaners and the number of holes of the caterpillar. We talked about putting the pipe cleaners "in" and taking them "out" and this happened a lot, as Skyler filled, emptied, and refilled the caterpillar at least a dozen times.

Our feathered fine motor birds are an activity that Skyler wants to play with frequently, and I know that the pipe cleaner version will be another popular choice in our house.


  1. Such a fun idea. My young 3s kiddos would love to do this. I love the clear egg cartons but have never seen them here in Denver.

    1. The clear egg cartons are great, but it would be just as cute to paint the outside of a paper carton green!

  2. Im sorry, Im using a smartphone and cannot see what is used to glue the egg carton cups to in order to "assemble" the caterpillar.

  3. Im sorry, Im using a smartphone and cannot see what is used to glue the egg carton cups to in order to "assemble" the caterpillar.