Looking for something fun to do on a rainy afternoon? Here's an idea—bring the zoo to you! In this fun and unique activity, your child can create his very own mini menagerie using colored pipe cleaners, a pencil and marker, glue, and a handful of googly eyes. Not only does this activity help your child exercise his artistic side and develop his fine motor skills, but it also helps build excitement about nature, animals, and life science. As he thinks about the defining features of each animal he creates, he'll learn a lesson about the beauty and diversity of life.
What You Do:
- To make the alligator:
- Discuss with your child how an alligator looks. What features make it unique?
- Have your child twist a green pipe cleaner around the pencil to create a tight coil. Straighten one end to create a tail. Flatten the other end of the coil to create the alligator's head.
- Cut two one-inch lengths of pipe cleaner and fold each one into the shape of a V to create the alligator's legs. Help your child thread these V-shaped pieces through the body coil where the legs should go, then pinch slightly to secure them to the body.
- Glue two googly eyes onto the alligator's head.
- To make the giraffe:
- Discuss with your child how a giraffe looks. What are a giraffe's defining features?
- Have your child wrap a yellow pipe cleaner around the pencil to create one of the giraffe's legs. Repeat this step three more times to create the other legs. You should have four coils in all. Stretch the leg coils slightly to make them longer.
- Have your child make another yellow coil using the pencil, but bend one end so it looks like a head on a neck.
- Have your child wrap a yellow pipe cleaner around the chubby marker to create a shorter, thicker coil to use for the body. If the body seems too long, trim the pipe cleaner to an appropriate length.
- Now it's time to join the body parts to the giraffe's torso. Hook the leg coils to the torso where the legs should go, pinching the ends of the leg coils closed around the torso as you do. To attach the neck, hook the end opposite the head to one end of the torso, then pinch the tip closed.
- Glue two eyes onto the giraffe's head.
- To make the elephant:
- Ask your child to describe what an elephant looks like. Which features stand out?
- Have your child wrap a blue pipe cleaner around the chubby marker to create the elephant's body, then make another for the elephant's head.
- Set aside one uncoiled blue pipe cleaner for the elephant's trunk.
- Have your child cut two blue pipe cleaners in half. Wrap each of these shorter pieces around the pencil to create four leg coils.
- Measure and cut two one-inch lengths of blue pipe cleaner, then bend them into the shape of a C to create the elephant's ears.
- Attach the elephant's body parts to its main torso as you did with the giraffe, beginning with the legs. To attach the ears, place the tips of the ears over the head where you want the ears to go, then pinch the ends closed to secure them in place.
- Glue two googly eyes onto the elephant's head.
Now your menagerie is complete! But you don't have to stop here—you can make any kind of animal using this technique. How would you make a monkey? A penguin? Take a look through a wildlife book for inspiration.