Besides pipe cleaners and colanders they've been sticking straws in an empty diaper-wipes bin, sorting the colored pasta in an egg carton, and playing with popsicle sticks. Oversize checkers are perfect for sticking in the slot of a clean, empty wet wipes bin.
Bruce is at that age where everything goes in his mouth. So he loved the colored craft (popsicle) sticks for that purpose. (So be sure to check for choking hazards.) He was pretty good at dropping colored craft sticks into this empty puffs container (we used a Happy Baby Puffs bottle but I'm sure anything with a nice wide mouth opening works), but eating them was more fun. He did like shaking the closed bottle once he filled it though!
I tend to keep the noodles away from Bruce for the most part, as I don't want them in his mouth, so obviously the egg carton was not filled by my 7 month old! Dean (who's 4) is really into sorting colors, especially in rainbow order. He was putting pipe cleaners he rolled into balls in here first, then moved on to the pasta.
Straws: plastic colored, 100-for-a-dollar straws were seriously the biggest hit this week with baby Bruce! I was using an empty wet wipes bin to store them and he was stuffing them in the dispenser hole. Working on his fine motor skills, I guess. Then, of course, he ate those as well. :)
Bruce really LOVES to put items in a bin and dump them out and repeat. I gave him an empty cookie container shaped like a bear with several toys (he loves this sensory ball set which is rubber balls of different sizes and textures) in. Entertains for the longest time!
If only I had known 4 children ago that fun could be so cheap (or free)!