Looping Twisties through Paper


Today I’m so excited to share that I’ve been invited to write a guest post for one of my favorite blogs, Not Just Cute. Sooo, bonus for today is that there are TWO TinkerLab posts for your enjoyment. Hoorah! The Not Just Cute project will take you outdoors to make a Book of Textures, which is a great activity for kids of all ages. After you read all about it, come on back and read about looping pipe cleaners and such.


My daughter recently enjoyed building a colander sculpture with pipe cleaners, so I thought we’d push the pipe cleaner envelope and see what else we could do with them. I put the following materials out and let her figure out their purpose:

  • pipe cleaners
  • markers
  • small paper shapes with holes punched in them

pipe cleaners

She picked up the paper and immediately began weaving the pipe cleaners through the holes. Go-go fine motor skills. She worked at this for a few minutes – standing – and then I guess she got tired and/or decided to commit to the project because she eventually pulled up a seat.


Poking the pipe cleaners through the holes was easy enough, but she was challenged to bend them into the twists and hooks that she wanted in order to link them together. She wove one or two pieces together, making about eight of these mini-assemblages. She returned to the project later in the day to add little drawings to the papers with the markers.

binder rings

I saved the papers, and the next day replaced the pipe cleaners with binder rings. I also added the hole puncher to the mix in case she wanted to give hole punching a go. Our hole puncher is a bit surly, and not the smoothest tool for a preschooler to use. Any recommendations for a kid-friendly hole puncher?

While she found the binder clips difficult to open, this didn’t faze her because she was intrigued by them (the novelty factor can go a long way!) and wanted to learn how they worked.

binder rings and paper

She made a handful of these before calling it quits. For older children, it could be fun to make little loose leaf books with binder rings. You could also use this technique to make a texture rubbing book, like the one we wrote about today at Not Just Cute.

What other materials would be fun to loop through holes?


  1. Great to see you featured! One of C’s favorite activities has been punching her own holes in paper and using pipe cleaners to weave through papers! She did a whole series of these with drawings and pipe cleaners a few months ago. SHe invented it herself! I know she would love this too! I like the idea of the shapes too.
    We’ll have to try the binder rings—-too bad we don’t have any around the house!

    • Thanks Melissa 🙂 C is so creative! Is this on your blog? I dug up some office supplies from my old working days, and found a bunch of treasures!

      • No, she did these activity way before our blog days! I will have to find them—I may have a pic!! This one is with labels, hole punch, pipe cleaners, ribbon, etc. She did this without any guidance!

  2. This looks like a really fun activity. It combines some favorite things in a new way (at least for me). Thanks for the post.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Scott! I know what you mean about seeing old favorites in new clothes. I hope your kids enjoy this.

  3. Our drug stores have “easy” punches in the stationary department. I think they are designed for older people or people with arthritis. I put one in my daughter’s Easter basket when she was 2 or 3 and she used it easily. I got one that was fairly small so that she could wrap her little fingers around it.

    Thanks for sharing your blog.

  4. We did a similar art project at a fine art museum. My 2yo and 4yo thought it was so much fun! It’s always the simple things. 🙂

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