Colander Sculpture

This surprisingly fun sculptural activity kept my 33 month old engaged for a long while. And the added bonus is that it’s also great for strengthening fine-motor skills, making color choices, and developing spatial understanding by making sense of the exterior and interior of an object.

The set up

A handful of pipe cleaners and a colander on a low table.

N wasn’t sure what to make of it at first and asked me to play with her. So we sat down together and I started poking the pipe cleaners in the holes.

Ahhhh, now she gets it. Once the ball got rolling I stepped back to let her explore on her own.

This is so much fun!

Once the top was “full,” she started working on the sides.

Colander Sculpture for Kids | TinkerLab.com

And then she wanted to know what was happening underneath the colander.

After working on this for about 20 minutes, N figured out that she could loop the pipe cleaners and stick both ends into the colander. Cool.

As of late, my daughter has shown a huge interest in building and sculptural activities. Maybe you remember my last post when she rejected the easel? So I’ll continue to continue to support this growing interest of hers and see where it takes her…and you can probably expect more sculptural activities here in the upcoming weeks.

While I can’t remember where I first saw this idea, if you’d like more pipe cleaner-colander inspiration, Anna and her daughters at The Imagination Tree did a similar project where her older daughter incorporated play dough into the sculpture! She packages this and other similar, stimulating activities as “Discovery Boxes,” which you can learn more about here. And if you don’t have pipe cleaners at home, but you do have straws, she also offers a Straw Discovery Box that is a super alternative.

This post was shared with We Play: Childhood 101, Skip to my Lou

Comments

  1. says

    So cute! What a neat idea and so simple to set up! Go you!!

    My kids always love putting the sticks in for the kerplunk game and then pulling them all out to watch all the marbles drop, never once have we played the game properly! hahaha!!!

    • rachelle says

      It was so simple, and so entertaining…the best kind of activity, for sure! I’ll have to look for kerplunk — it sounds like a game we may enjoy having around too!

  2. says

    This is awesome! I will have to try this too because I think a certain 4 1/2 year old would love this. My daughter has always loved sculptural activities way more than painting and drawing. We’ve used pipe cleaners and toothpicks with play dough and snow which she loved. For X-mas, my daughter received this retro game: Kerplunk which has the same concept of putting and pulling out sticks from holes and not letting marbles fall! Thanks for reminding me that simple activities like this have artistic value!

    • rachelle says

      Wow, that’s the second Kerplunk mention — must look into this game! I bet Cassie would enjoy this, and if it snowed here, we’d probably be sticking pipe cleaners in our snow too :)

  3. says

    That looks wicked fun!!!

    And in that last photo, I see that baby stuck in the corner, forced to only observe! Watch out, she’s going to learn how to crawl soon so she can join right on in! Each of my kids crawled earlier than the last, until the third was walking at 11 months. :-)

    • rachelle says

      You are right about that baby, Amy, and you have a good eye for details. She actually has her moments of involvement, but I try to give my older daughter some 1:1 time when her sister is otherwise entertained. 11 months! That’s one early walker!! I’ll enjoy it while it lasts, since the crawling and walking is right around the corner!

  4. says

    Thanks for linking back to me! Why isn’t your daughter trying to wear the colander as a hat like mine did?! lol! Looks like you had lots of fun together. So many skills developed without even realising it- exactly why I love these types of open-ended play with no outcome in mind!

    • rachelle says

      Haha! Your daughter with the colander hat cracks me up. Our kids seem to have so much in common, it’s a pity you live thousands of miles away!

  5. Kate says

    I did this with my daughter Cassie who is almost 3 yrs old, and we had fun together. It doesn’t take long, but we were both grateful for a new game to play. `

    • rachelle says

      Hi Kate,
      Thanks for sharing this fabulous photo — I love how it appears to have turned into a whole-body experience! And isn’t it nice when the new games don’t cost a fortune?
      R

  6. says

    I think this would make a great sick day activity, although after almost two full sick weeks I am NOT anticipating another one!

    • rachelle says

      You’ve been sick, too? I’ve been battling a cold for a week now, and both kids have been sick. It’s rough, and I am so looking forward to warmer days. This would be a keeper for an indoor day, for sure.

  7. Cathy @ NurtureStore says

    Thanks for linking up to the Kids Art Explorers project with this wonderful sculpture :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I actually thought this was a great activity for toddlers. You basically give them a colander, turn it upside down and let them stick pipe cleaners into all of the holes. I really liked this when I saw it so when my 2 yr old grandson came over I set him up with this. The problem was that either the pipe cleaners were too thin or the holes were too big and it didn’t really work . http://tinkerlab.com/2011/03/colander-sculpture/ [...]