Fueling Imagination… The Pipe Cleaner Princess

Summer is in full swing and it has been amazing to see the girls flourishing during our time here in California. They’re both learning to swim like fish and I think we are all embracing the more laid back California dreamin’ summertime . A new development for Mabel is how much longer she is able to engage on a particular project. Coloring has always been a favorite activity, but the time spent was about 5-10 minutes on the average. Now she can spend anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour whipping up her masterpieces. Not only does she love to color and  paint , she is all-in for any type of crafting project (watch out, Martha Stewart!) and this mommy needs to step up her game. Now that I have a budding fine artist in our midst and little sister, Evelyn, not far behind, I’ve been putting together a craft kit I can have at the ready whenever artistic inspiration strikes. I will share my art kit must-haves in the coming weeks. The art kit is great way to keep every craft minded bit and bob organized and all in one place.

My goal is to fuel my babies’ imagination and watching Mabel in that moment I knew I had hit a home run.

One of the first craft ingredients I bought for our kit was a giant pack of pipe cleaners in various colors. They came separated by color and the first thing Mabel did was pull off the rubber bands that separated them and mix all of them together in one giant pile. My OCD kicked in pretty quick when I saw how quickly my perfectly organized kit was falling apart at the seams, but then I looked at the delight in Mabel’s face. She was literally giddy with excitement. My initial intention was for us to make cute furry caterpillars  with our newly acquired pipe cleaners. The moment I sat down next to Mabel and her multicolored pile of magic, however, I knew something better was about to be created. She was a flurry of imagination. She kept telling me about all the amazing things she was going to make. Bending and wrapping the pipe cleaners in all types of ways, giggling at her own silliness. Listening to Mabel’s stream of ideas made me realize creating the perfect craft wasn’t my goal. My goal is to fuel my babies’ imagination and watching Mabel in that moment I knew I had hit a home run. It didn’t matter what we made.

Mabel is all about superheroes and princesses, so we started to get busy on making a crown. The headpiece led to making a matching scepter, which ultimately led to a request for a beautiful princess dress. Woah. Way out of Mommy’s crafting comfort zone. What’s a Mommy to do?! Stretch her imagination of course. Luckily, I’m dealing with a three year old whose level of art appreciation is on par with stick figures and smiley faces. We took a dishtowel and made quite the chic sarong complete with pipe cleaner embellishment. Princess outfit complete! Mabel was incredibly pleased at her ensemble and couldn’t stop chatting about all of the other things we could make. She did a little fashion show for Evelyn which got a good giggle out of her. These are the moments I truly cherish being a mom. I even made a Pinterest board for future pipe cleaner art inspiration.

Do you have any favorite crafts you like to do with your kids? If so, what’s in your craft kit?? Any suggestions for what I should put in ours?


From my home to yours,

Emma xx

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Gail says:

Hi Emma! Great post…my daughters love the craft pipe cleaners too! We live in Chicago and just this past Winter we were snowed-in with almost two feet of snow at a nearby hotel. My three daughters (my fourth daughter was only 10 months at the time) got extremely creative with the colored craft pipe cleaners I was able to get at the gift shop. It was great! If Mabel enjoys crafting with the pipe cleaners she might enjoy something called “wikki stix”. They are essentially a piece of yarn coated with non-toxic, non-allergenic, gluten-free wax (so it is safe if our littlest ones get a hold of them). You can bend them and they will adhere to one another to make all kinds of shapes. My daughters like to spell things out with them or make shapes to stick to the refrigerator. My four year old practices forming her letters and numbers with them. It is sort of like a cross between play-doh and pipe cleaners. Wikki stix is the brand name, but I have seen a few off-brand that work just as well.

Another item we always have in our craft box is stickers of all shapes, sizes and characters. Endless possibilities for a rainy day…or a snowy Chicago day!

Happy crafting! All the best to you and your beautiful family!

Emma Heming Willis says:

Ugh those winter days. I remember them well. I need to really make sure I am stocked up when that cold rolls around again. Thank you for the added ideas! xx

Roxanne says:

Hi Emma,
I love your post this week. Crafting with my kids was always so much fun and now I get to do it with my granddaughter. It doesn’t take much to get their imaginations going does it. It always amazes me the things kids come up with on their own. Their faces just light up. So much fun!
Some of our favorite things we keep in our creativity box are paper plates and small paper bags. The paper plates are great for making masks which would go along great with Mabel’s love for super heroes and princesses. Paper bags are great for making puppets. Boys tube socks are great for making puppets as well because they are easier for small hands to make the mouth work. We also love the peel and stick foamies and clothespins. There are way to many things to share in one post.
I have lots of fun foods for kids and crafting ideas on my facebook page if you would like to check it out. There are also some great pictures of the Red 2 premiere. There is one of Bruce and a young fan that was standing next to me that is just priceless. Bruce made his day.
As always I enjoy reading and using the ideas from your blog. I wish I had this when my boys were little. It’s awesome! Thanks for letting me be a part.
Until next time,
Roxanne 🙂 xoxo

Emma Heming Willis says:

Great ideas! I’ll need to stock some of these in to my craft basket as well! xx

Rosemary Knapp - AreKay (RK) says:
I realize these ideas are a bit ambitious as DIY crafts for your girls at their current ages but they and their little friends could have a ball playing with the finished projects!

Emma Heming Willis says:

I love any and ever idea. Plus Mabel is going through her princess phase at present 🙂

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