Monday, February 17, 2014

Flex Your Fine Motor Skills: How to Make a Bendable Doll

Today we did yoga at our active playgroup that I help facilitate.  Our group is geared for preschoolers
(2-5 year olds, which covers quite a range of ability).  We all did an ABC yoga DVD together and then made flexible dolls out of pipe cleaners.  It worked very well with the 3 and 4 year olds, some of the younger ones enjoyed putting the beads on and giving their doll a haircut, but needed a lot of assistance.  Definitely a good “Mommy and me” activity where there is a one to one ratio for our youngest participants!  (Of course you’ll want to be careful that you don’t give young children small beads if they are prone to putting things in their mouths.)  On the plus side the pipe cleaners are easier to string beads on than string since they have more rigidity to them, the fuzziness gives the beads some traction so they don’t easily slide off and the ends don’t fray.  I blended a couple ideas I had found online and simplified it as much as I could.

The first pipe cleaner doll I found was through pinterest.  I wanted more realistic hair on the dolls, but didn’t want to have to glue it and wait for the glue to dry and using hot glue with a room of preschoolers is not an option.  I also wanted to simplify the number of pipe cleaners used and how the beads were strung so the kids didn’t have to make any knots between the beads.  The second site I found was from a Waldorf School in Los Angeles called The City School.    They had done a much more intricate doll, but the way the hair was incorporated worked well with our project. 

Below are the materials needed for our flexible yoga doll and instructions for making one.

43 Plastic Pony Beads (1-neck, 7-each arm, 10- body, 9- each leg)
12” chenille stems (1 and a half per doll)
Large wooden bead for the head
yarn for the hair
shallow container to keep the beads from rolling on the floor

Fold the long pipe cleaner in half.  Put the loop through the wooden bead. 
Wrap yarn around your hand (about 8 times)and slide it through the loop at the top of the bead.  Pull it gently back towards the bead, pulling a little bit of the yarn into the hole in the bead so that the loop in the pipe cleaner disappears.   There should be enough yarn to make the hair stick into the bead, but not slide through it completely.
You can either cut the loops in the hair now, or give the doll a haircut at the end.
Slide both ends of the pipe cleaners through a pony bead up to the base of the wooden bead to make a neck. 
Wrap the shorter pipe cleaner around the two attached to the head of the doll to make two arms.
Thread 7 beads on each arm and curl the end of the pipe cleaner so the end is tucked into the last bead to form an arm and keep the beads from slipping off.
Next, thread 5 beads on each of the two long pipe cleaners to make the torso, and then twist the pipe cleaners to create hips and thread 9 beads on each leg.  Curl the ends of the pipe cleaners the same way you made the hands to form feet and keep the beads from falling off. 

The end results were pretty successful and the kids will enjoy playing with them and perhaps they will even get their dolls to do a few yoga poses they learned.

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