Pipe Cleaner Rose – A Multi-Sensory Activity

Pipe Cleaner Rose 6

Fine motor skills are used in our everyday life’s, from buttoning our shirts, signing our names, taking coins from our wallets, even feeding ourselves. As we age certain disorders and just general aging can cause our fine motor skills to decline.

Practicing can help to keep a senior’s skills sharp!


Paper – preferably a card stock that is stiffer than just construction paper.

Glue – glue sticks are more manageable

Washable Markers in a Variety of Colors

Pipe Cleaners – multi – colors, some cut in half, some left whole.  You can use yarn but we find pipe cleaners to be easier.

Optional:  Have some type of frame available such as an inexpensive black frame or order some paper ones like these or these.

Optional:  Lyrics for the song and a music source.  See Step 6

Optional:  Pass some rose oil to reminisce about the fragrance of flowers.


Step 1:  Place the supplies at the table.  Each person should have about 8 pipe cleaners of different sizes.

Step 2:  Gather your seniors around a table.  We think tables of four is ideal.  Make sure you have enough assistance to help those who may need it.  Show the group a completed project so that they can have an idea as to where the project is headed.  At this point, you could introduce the oils if you choose to use them for engaging the olfactory senses.

Step 3: Demonstrate how to coil the pipe cleaners at each table.  Instruct the participants to “Make roses by coiling the pipe cleaner like this”.

Step 4:  The participants should begin to coil them and you should help any who might be struggling.  By using the different sizes, they will produce different size roses.

The act of coiling the pipe cleaners is using small muscles in your hands, this will help build strength. 

Step 5: Choose whether you want to put the glue on the paper or on the glue down the rose coiled pipe cleaners to the paper.  We think these glue sticks work well.  You will find it may be easier to apply glue directly to the paper then to the pipe cleaners.  Once the glue is put on the paper, hold the pipe cleaner down on the glue for a few seconds so that it will stick.  Be sure to put plenty of the glue especially if you are using the glue stick.  It will dry transparent.

Step 6:  Let dry.  This might be a good time for a song while the glue is drying. Try the “When the Red Red Robin Comes Bobbin’ Along”.  Here are the lyrics and we love this Doris Day version.

Step 7: Now the fun drawing can begin. Pass out the markers to each table by placing a box of various colors in the center of the table unless you think that it is better to hand each person 3 – 4 of their own.  Drawing is a great stress reliever and mood booster. Demonstrate on your own “artwork” how to draw stems for the roses.  Take the markers and draw some stems for your roses. Suggest to the participants that they can get creative here showing rain, the sun, maybe an animal, a bee.  Let the imagination produce a beautiful picture.

Step 8:  Make some great comments about each resident’s art and invite them to comment if they want to but mainly give some recognition to each person if time permits.  Be sure to hang the completed art in a gallery or on the doors of the residents.

Please leave your comments and suggestions.