DIY | Ribbon Bolt Lacing

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We’re always on the lookout for neat loose part ideas and fell in love with these plastic thingies. Not sure what they are officially called, Ribbon Bolts I think, but plastic thingies works.  You’ll find these plastic thingies in your local fabric shop wrapped in ribbon, upholstery trim, and the like.

Most shops appear to put little value on them and will happily give them to you for free or for a small charge. There’s probably a good chance your local fabric store will set you up with as many as you need if you stop by and ask them if they could donate them for the children. It’s amazing what kinds of cool loose parts you can score when it’s for the children.

Once you have some plastic thingies in hand, plop them down in front of some children with a pile of ribbon, step back, and see what happens.

You’ll probably end up with something like this:

Or this:

In addition to ribbon, you could try rope, pipe cleaners, yarn, string, long blades of grass, bendy sticks, and more.

But don’t be surprised when the kids have different ideas. Just allow yourself to go with the flow.

We’ve seen them used in dramatic play as cheese graters, window screens, musical instruments, dish drainers, and more. We’ve seen them used in water play, in sand play, and in block play. At play events we’ve put on, we’ve even seen adults settle in and wrap long sections of ribbon or rope into them. When asked, they explained it was ‘relaxing’ or ‘therapeutic’.

If you give them a try in your play space, we’d love to hear about (and see photos of) how kids use them.


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Jeff Johnson is an early learning trainer, podcaster, and author and the founder of Explorations Early Learning and Playvolution HQ.

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