Looking for an inexpensive, no-mess winter craft for kids? Follow the easy steps below to create adorable penguins, made entirely of inexpensive pipe cleaners and stick-on googly eyes. You won’t need any paint or glue! These cute pipe-cleaner penguins can easily be turned into Christmas ornaments or Valentine’s Day decorations with the addition of some simple accessories also made out of pipe cleaners.
I was desperate to find a craft for the kids to make at my third-grade son’s winter party at school when I came across this pipe-cleaner penguins idea on the Disney Family Fun website (here). I’ve taken that idea, changed things up a bit, and added some cute holiday accessories to the penguins, just for fun. I wanted to eliminate the need for glue (because don’t you hate when your child’s freshly-glued craft falls apart in his backpack on the way home from school?!), which is why I decided to fashion the penguin’s beak and feet out of one piece of yellow or orange pipe cleaner.
Supplies Needed to Make One Pipe-Cleaner Penguin
2 Black pipe cleaners
1 White pipe cleaner
1 Yellow or orange pipe cleaner
1 Red pipe cleaner-optional
2 small sticky-back googly eyes (I used 7 mm eyes)
Pencil and scissors
Notes: I used 6 mm-width chenille pipe cleaners that are 12 inches long. A pack of 25 chenille pipe cleaners costs around 99 cents. I bought Creatology-brand sticky-back “wiggle eyes” at Michael’s Arts and Crafts, and I’ve found that they adhere to the chenille pipe cleaners very well. I was able to supply a classroom of 27 kids with enough materials to make two penguins each for about $7.
How to Make Pipe-Cleaner Penguins
Check out this related slideshow to see more pictures.
Step 1: Cut one black pipe cleaner into 4-inch pieces. (Don’t touch the other black pipe cleaner.) Cut the yellow/orange pipe cleaner into 4-inch pieces. From the white pipe cleaner, you’ll need at least one 1.75-inch piece. If you’ve chosen to use a red pipe cleaner to make accessories for your penguin, cut it into 4-inch pieces. The ends of pipe cleaners can be sharp. Don’t poke your finger!
Step 2: Make the body of your pipe-cleaner penguin. Press one end of the long black pipe cleaner against the pencil with your thumb, hold it firmly, and twist the pipe cleaner around and around the pencil-don’t stop until you’ve turned the entire length of pipe cleaner into neat coils. Keep the coils tight, but don’t overlap. See picture 1.
Step 3: Make the pipe-cleaner penguin’s white belly. Slide the coiled black pipe cleaner off the pencil. Bend one end of the short (1.75 inch) piece of white pipe cleaner. Poke the bent end of the white pipe cleaner into the black body, approximately four coils down from the top (you need to leave room above the white strip for the penguin’s beak and eyes). Now bend the other end of the white pipe cleaner and push it inside the bottom of the penguin’s body; pinch it tightly against the black pipe cleaner so it won’t slip.
Step 4: Make the pipe-cleaner penguin’s beak and feet with one 4-inch piece of yellow or orange pipe cleaner.
4a: This is the trickiest part. Look at your penguin’s body and envision where you want his beak to go. Poke the piece of yellow/orange pipe cleaner through the penguin’s face, approximately two coils down from the top, above the white belly-but angle the orange pipe cleaner so that instead of going out through the back of the penguin’s head, you push it all the way through its body so that it comes out the bottom. (To make this step easier, you might want to peel apart the black coils just slightly to make room for the orange pipe cleaner. Then push the black coils back together once the penguin’s beak is in place.) See picture 2.
4b: Now form the penguin’s beak by bending the top part of the yellow/orange pipe cleaner (the beak should be at least ¼ inch long).
4c: Shape the yellow/orange section of pipe cleaner below the penguin’s body into feet. To do so, bend the yellow/orange pipe cleaner at the base of the body so that it sticks out to one side. Now bend the orange pipe cleaner back on itself to form two feet (each foot will be about ½ inch long). See picture 3.
Step 5: Make the pipe-cleaner penguin’s wings. Push one 4-inch section of black pipe cleaner through the penguin’s body horizontally, where you imagine his shoulders to be. Make sure the length of the black pipe cleaner is even on both sides. Shape both ends of the black pipe cleaner into wings by bending the pipe cleaner down at the shoulder, folding it in half, and tucking the remainder under the penguin’s armpit. See picture 4.
Step 6: Stick on the pipe-cleaner penguin’s eyes. Your penguin is done! Isn’t he cute?
Step 7: (Optional) Dress him up! Get your pipe-cleaner penguin ready for the winter holidays with some cute accessories. See picture 5. Check out my slideshow for more pictures that illustrate how to make these accessories. Here are some ideas:
–Make a scarf for your penguin out of one 4-inch section of red pipe cleaner. Just loop the red pipe cleaner around his neck.
–Make a hat for your penguin out of one 4-inch section of red pipe cleaner. Twist the red pipe cleaner around the tip of your pinky finger, coiling it the same way you coiled the penguin’s body. Pull it off your finger and smoosh down one end of the pipe cleaner to form the top of the hat. To make the hat stay on the penguin’s head, bend down the other end of the pipe cleaner and shape it into a short post that will fit perfectly inside the hole on the top of the penguin’s head.
–Make a candy cane for your penguin to hold. Take one 4-inch (or shorter) section of red pipe cleaner and a section of white pipe cleaner of the same length. Twist the white pipe cleaner around the red pipe cleaner to form candy stripes. When your pipe-cleaner candy cane is complete, stick it through the loop that forms your penguin’s wing. Now he’s holding a candy cane. Sweet!
–Penguins love winter sports, don’t they? Well, our pipe-cleaner penguin does. Trim one inch off the ends of your two remaining 4-inch sections of black pipe cleaner. Shape the 3-inch sections of black pipe cleaner into skis. Push the ends of the skis through the loops that form the penguin’s feet. Make two ski poles by twisting the short 1-inch pieces of black pipe cleaner around the ends of each 2-inch section of white pipe cleaner. Push the ski poles through the loops that form your penguin’s wings. Look at him now, ready to hit the slopes!
–2.5 inches of white pipe cleaner can easily be turned into a snowball. Twist it into a little ball or tie it into a fat knot. Bend down one end of the pipe-cleaner snowball to make it fit in the penguin’s wing.
–Or, with that 2.5-inch section of white pipe cleaner, you could turn your penguin’s red hat into a Santa hat. Take the red hat you already made or make another one. Push the white pipe cleaner through the top of the red hat to form a white pom-pom. Wrap the rest of the white pipe cleaner around the bottom of the red hat. When your Santa hat is done, plop it back onto your penguin’s head. Ho-ho-ho! Merry Christmas!
–Turn your pipe-cleaner penguin into a Christmas ornament. Just add a metal hook to the back of the penguin’s head and hang it on your Christmas tree.
–Turn your pipe-cleaner penguin into a Valentine’s Day craft. Shape one of your 4-inch sections of red pipe cleaner into a heart. Twist the pointed end and bend it slightly so it fits in the penguin’s wing. Or connect two penguins with one big heart looped through their wings.
–Make baby pipe-cleaner penguins by forming the penguin’s body out of a 6-inch piece of black pipe cleaner and using shorter pieces of the other pipe cleaners. Soon you’ll have a whole family of happy pipe-cleaner penguins!
–Make hats and scarves out of other brightly-colored pipe cleaners. Green or blue would look great.
–Use green pipe cleaners to make Christmas trees or wreaths for the penguins to hold. (See my slideshow for an example.)
Make this pipe-cleaner penguin craft easier for young children: Young children will probably need help with this pipe-cleaner penguin craft project. Plan to do this project alongside young kids. You may need to make the penguin’s body, beak, and feet for your children. Kids can make the wings without too much trouble and will enjoy sticking the eyes on. Make a bunch of penguin accessories ahead of time, and let young children stick accessories of their choice on their pipe-cleaner penguin craft.
To see more pictures, check out my related slideshow, How to Make Pipe-Cleaner Penguins.
Related Kids’ Winter Craft Article:
Here is the article that introduced me to the idea of pipe-cleaner penguins: http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/pipe-cleaner-penguins-671668/
Other Christmas articles by this author:
Where Did Mommy Hide My Christmas Presents? (Humor)
Best Christmas 2010 Gifts for LEGO Lovers
Inexpensive Christmas Gift Ideas for Children