Making pipe cleaner Christmas ornaments can be a fun way to celebrate the holidays and create items that will bring memories for years to come. My class recently made these fun Christmas trees that can hang on a tree or sit on a shelf.
This activity, like most activities in my classroom, provide a framework for children to explore and experiment. Open-ended activities and materials encourage kids to think about what to do and to try their own ideas. The child chooses what to do and decides when he is finished. These types of activities create results that do not look the same; each one looks different and reflects the individual child. I really like things that look like they were made by preschoolers, and these certainly do.
For these tree ornaments, you need only simple supplies. You may already have these items in your art cabinet or storage area.
- Green chenille craft stems (We used regular ones and sparkly ones.)
- Tan chenille craft stems (You can use only green stems if you choose.)
- Pony beads
- Yarn or string (optional)
Easy Pipe Cleaner Christmas Tree Ornaments
We made two kinds of ornaments–triangle trees and straight-branch trees. Each triangle tree uses a whole green chenille stem, so no preparation is needed. For the straight-branch trees, cut the tan craft stems in half. Cut the green craft stems in halves, fourths, and thirds. These measurements do not need to be exact. Just cut three different lengths. (But, as you can see, the children didn’t follow a pattern, so for simpler preparation, just cut green craft stems in halves or thirds.)
Make Triangle Christmas Trees
Give a green chenille stem to a child. Invite her to fold the craft stem into a triangle shape. Do not join the ends. The child can string pony beads onto the stem and space them out as she chooses.
Suggest kids create a pattern on their trees. Or comment on what you see the children doing. Allow kids to use as many or a few beads as they choose.
Twist the ends of the stem together when the child finishes adding beads. (Or tuck the ends of the stem into the beads if the child fills the stem with beads.)
You can loop a length of string or yarn through the tree and tie it to make a hanger. But we just hung the ornaments without any string.
Straight-Branch Christmas Trees
Invite a child to loop one end of a tan chenille stem piece as the top of the ornament. He can wrap green chenille stem pieces around the tan stem to make branches. Suggest he place smaller pieces at the top of the tree and longer pieces at the bottom of the tree. We discovered that kids chose lengths at random or used all the same length on their trees.
Kids can add beads to the branches of their trees. Suggest they bend the ends of the branches to ensure the beads stay on the tree.
You may need to bend and twist the branches, adjusting them to look “just right.” If you choose, thread yarn through the top loop and tie to make a hanger.
Our kids loved making these trees. Each one was unique. Each child used his own ideas. One decided to make a cross instead of a tree.
That’s why I love open-ended activities with flexible materials. Kids can experiment and explore and enjoy what they are doing.
Have fun with these simple ornaments! Allow kids to explore their own ideas.
BIO: Scott Wiley, an early childhood educator for 30 years, is editor for Pre-K Pages. He also blogs at Brick by Brick, exploring the connection between play and learning. Connect with Scott on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.