Colorful pipe cleaner bead mazes

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on April 1, 2012

in Creative Art, Pipe Cleaner Beaded Mazes

After seeing some wonderful pipe cleaner designs being shared on other blogs, I finally knew exactly what to do with all those scraps of Styrofoam  squares and blocks I have been saving up in my garage…

This is a very open ended process and there are many ways it can be explored.  We made pipe cleaner designs on Styrofoam without beads at first which is very fun and beautiful by itself. My threes enjoyed just working with the pipe cleaners by themselves although some did come back later and tried adding beads too…

As I was watching the kids explore the pipe cleaners and Styrofoam,  that is when I realized that these reminded me of those beaded mazes you can buy in a store so, I pulled out my basket of colorful beads. We usually use the beads to thread onto shoestrings but I thought we would try making beaded mazes…

Each child chose what they preferred to do with the materials.  Some children used the beads, some children only used the pipe cleaners, and the designs went in all different creative directions. Keep in mind, this activity was designed at first for the children just to explore the materials.  The children made many discoveries along the way…

I set out Styrofoam in all different shapes and sizes. I had an odd assortment I had saved.  If the children wanted to start over, they simply pulled out all the pipe cleaners and started over with a blank canvas…

The children discovered that if they curled or tangled up the pipecleaners too much, that their beads would get stuck and not go from one end to the other.  The children also discovered that they could hook two pipe cleaners together to make the maze longer but it didn’t always work out the way they hoped.  The children used their problem solving skills and their own interest in creative design and expression through out the process of exploring the pipe cleaners and beads…

The children also discovered that if they added too many beads that it would weigh down the pipe cleaner rather than let the pipe cleaner stand up tall. Funny thing is, this did not concern the children.  I thought it would but it shows what I know – they just kept adding more beads anyway…

And the children also discovered that if they pushed one end of the pipe cleaner into the Styrofoam first, it would be much easier to then add the beads.  To help the threes, I demonstrated this part of the process so they could manage the beads easier…

My older children really liked the “engineering” aspect of this process so on Prek only day, I set out the materials again only this time instead of my beads, I set out some left over pasta beads so the Prek kids could make one to take home…

Some of the prek children chose to only use the pipe cleaners for their take home maze…

The pasta beads were a little too heavy. I was trying to find some of bright and colorful straws for the children to use but I couldn’t find them anywhere that morning.  Oh well – we will save the straws for another day when we need something simple to keep us busy…

One of the biggest discoveries by the children was if you added a pipe cleaner to each side of your Sheet of styrofoam, then you would have a handle to hold it!…

This was such a terrific process, I can see lots of potential for future ideas so I guess I will stock back up on sheets and squares of Styrofoam for our next adventure…

On our last day, the Prek kids took their mazes home….

 

Available on Amazon

Links to Grow On

Pipe Cleaner Sculptures from House of Baby Piranha

Beaded Rainbow Activity from To the Lesson!

Discovery Box Pipe Cleaners from The Imagination Tree

Learning Letters with Pipe Cleaners from Makes and Takes

Pipe Cleaner Toy from Fun and Engaging Activities for Toddlers

Marble Mazes from Strong Start

This article is being shared with you by Deborah Stewart of Teach Preschool - Sharing the wonders of early learning in action!

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