Using Cardboard Tubes for Toddler Toys
Make Fun Toys with Cardboard Tubes
Using Recycled Tubes for Toys
Cardboard tubes can be used in a variety of ways to make great toys for toddlers and preschoolers. Make pretend binoculars, telescopes, and even an entire cardboard city for hours of play. The best thing about the use of recycled tubes is the cost: everyone loves free toys!
Kids have a fascination with toys they have made. I once made a cardboard city with my boys and they played with it for hours - until it literally fell apart. Since the materials were all destined for the recycle bin anyway, no one was upset when the buildings started to fall apart!
While the toys made from the tubes are meant for young children, the preparation of the toys is strictly for adults. Some of the crafts involve cutting and the use of a hot glue gun, and should only be performed by a responsible adult. Children may help with painting and decorating the toys, of course!
Cardboard Tube Binoculars
Make a pair of binoculars to wear in the great outdoors! The lenses may be left empty, or clear saran wrap may be used to create lenses. For a twist, use colored saran wrap to give a colorful view of the world!
- 2 tubes from toilet paper rolls
- Hole punch
- Saran wrap (optional)
- Have the child paint the cardboard tubes.
- Once the paint is dry, glue the two tubes together to form the "binoculars." White glue (school glue) may be used, but will take a while to dry. A hot glue gun will make this process much faster and will result in sturdier binoculars. This step is for adults only, please!
- If lenses are desired, stretch saran wrap over one end of the binoculars. Secure with a rubber band.
- Punch a hole on each side of the binoculars.
- Thread a string through the holes and make a loop.
Make a Stargazer with a Cardboard TubeClick thumbnail to view full-size
Make your own starry night with a cardboard tube and black construction paper. These telescopes are easy to make and are fun to look through, They can also be used to teach children to recognize the constellations.
- Cardboard tubes (any size, preferably narrow diameter)
- Black construction paper or card stock
- Glue or glue dots
- Have the child paint a cardboard tube black. If desired, glitter may be used to give the tube a sparkly effect. Allow the paint to dry.
- Use a needle to poke holes in the construction paper. Make the holes in the shape of a constellation, or in a random pattern. Use a large enough needle to allow light to shine through the holes.
- Glue the piece of black construction paper to the end of the tube. White glue may be used, but a hot glue gun is faster and will keep the paper on longer (adults only). An alternative to glue is the use of glue dots - place 5-6 glue dots around the perimeter of the tube and adhere the paper to the tube.
Look through the tube and see the stars you have made!
How to Make a KazooClick thumbnail to view full-size
Cardboard Tube Kazoo
Make a kazoo as fun musical instrument for your toddler. This project only requires a plastic grocery bag, cardboard tube, rubber band, and a pencil to punch a hole in one side of the tube.
- Cardboard tube
- Plastic grocery bag, cut into a 4" square
- Rubber band
- Using the pencil, punch a hole into one side of the cardboard tube, halfway down its length.
- Cut a 4" square out of the plastic grocery bag.
- Secure the grocery bag square to one end of the tube with a rubber band.
Try humming into the kazoo from different sides: humming against the "closed" side against the plastic bag will produce the best "kazoo" sound. Experiment with humming into the top hole and the open side, too, to observe the different sound effects.
Cardboard Tube Marble RunClick thumbnail to view full-size
Make a Marble Run
Make a fun marble run for the refrigerator by using cardboard tubes, ping pong balls, and magnets. This is a fun activity for all kids! Magnets with adhesive can be found at any craft store.
- Cardboard tubes of different lengths
- Craft knife
- Tacky glue
- Ping pong ball or marbles
- An adult should cut a hole into one side of each cardboard tube. Cut some cardboard tubes into tunnels, some into open runs, and try placing the holes in different locations along the length of the tube.
- Adhere the tubes to the side of a large cardboard box with tacky glue. Arrange the tubes so each tube will drop into the next tube. Allow the glue to dry.
- Use a ping pong ball or marble and watch it race through the tubes!
Children will learn about acceleration and gravity with this simple toy. Some experimentation will be required to get a "perfect" marble run. The marble may run right off the end of the tube, allowing the child and parent to problem solve.
An alternative to this marble run activity is to use magnets on the back of the cardboard tubes and attach them to a refrigerator or other metallic surface. This will allow the tubes to be rearranged at a whim.
Children should always be supervised while using marbles: use larger tubes and ping pong balls for children under the age of three.
Make a Cardboard RacetrackClick thumbnail to view full-size
Race cars side-by-side to see which car is faster!
- One long cardboard tube, cut in half (lengthwise)
- Glue or duct tape.
- An adult should cut along the length of a long cardboard tube. This will create two "half-pipes."
- Glue the two half-pipes next to each other, or use duct tape to secure the two halves side-by-side.
- Race cars down the track, and see which one wins!
As an alternative, use two tubes and leave them uncut. Use balls or cars and roll them down the two "tunnels."
Make a City Out of Cardboard Tubes and BoxesClick thumbnail to view full-size
Make an entire town from cardboard tubes and boxes. This project takes a short time to put together - use the cardboard city to learn about different places in our community. Make a post office, hospital, school, bank, and other buildings that exist in your town.
- Cardboard tubes of various sizes
- Cardboard boxes
- Hot glue gun and glue
- Stickers and markers
- The adult should turn cardboard boxes inside out, so that any labels face the inside of the re-formed box. The box must be glued back together with a hot glue gun (white glue takes a long time to dry and the box will simply flop apart).
- Have the kids paint the boxes and cardboard tubes. Acrylic paints work well for this project.
- The adult should use hot glue to attach cardboard tubes to the tops of some buildings (or as tunnels to connect buildings).
- Have the kids use markers and stickers to decorate their cardboard city.
Use die-cast metal cars and small action figures in the city. Children love racing cars down the tubes and making action figures visit the various buildings in their town!