One of the first activities I made for Trip is a super simple one: pipe cleaners in a bottle. I simply took an empty ricotta container, put a large sticker over the lid (to cover up the writing and make it easier to see the holes) and poked holes in it with scissors. A drill would have worked too for making the holes. I had also considered using a hole punch, but it didn't reach very far into the lid and I didn't want all of the holes to be around the edge.
I then bent/twisted up some pipe cleaners, and the activity was ready to go.
Bending and twisting the pipe cleaners not only prevents little fingers from getting hurt on the pointy edges, it also makes them more rigid and easier to push through the holes. This is the method I used:
This activity was a hit form the start. Although we first attempted it at 23 months, I think Trip probably could have done it a few months sooner.
I have since made several nicer ones to give away. This one is made of a bread crumb container. I was able to use a special hole punch while at my mom's house to make these holes and like having different sizes and thus different difficulty levels.
I also covered this container with some scrapbook paper to make it more interesting.
Large spice jars work well too and are even easier to re-purpose since they have built-in holes.