Arts & Crafts

Easy Cardboard Tube Crafts Kids of All Ages Can Make

By: Highlights Editorial
A child making crafts at a table full of paint tubes and pieces of construction paper
For All Ages
Fine Motor Skills

Why buy craft kits when your little ones can whip up the cutest stuff ever—right now, at home, with cardboard rolls you have in the house! 

Looking for a fun way to spend time with your child while your cutie taps into her inner artist? Try these toilet paper roll crafts when school’s closed, you’re stuck indoors or you’re looking for truly creative, no-fail projects.

1. Assemble a set of big-wheel autos

For this cardboard tube craft, paint an empty cardboard tube race car red. Paint a second one neon green or sunburst yellow. Cut big black circles out of a sheet of cardboard—four per car. Glue them on and call them tires. Hold a family-room derby. Start your engines!

2. Make one-of-a-kind napkin holders

Cut tubes in half to form two rings. Go full-on glitter for a tea-party look, or use frilly ribbons to make a fancy set. If your child prefers a more modern collection, use primary-color paint and punch holes in the rings—the more the better. Use at dinner tonight. Design extras for guests.

3. Pretty-up a scarecrow

On a single empty paper-towel roll, draw or color two bright blue eyes, a pair of rosy cheeks and a handful of freckles. Add a cupcake-liner hat, craft-stick arms, yarn or string hair, a red shirt and blue jean bottoms. Presto—an autumn decoration!

4. Construct a DIY choo-choo

Use high-gloss craft paint to give empty towel-paper rolls a shiny silver coat, and add some windows with black markers or paint. (Switch to primary color paints if your child prefers them.) Glue on plastic bottle caps for the train’s wheels. String cars together with yarn or ribbon.

5. Build a magic palace

Stack large, medium and small cardboard boxes to form a basic structure. Gather empty towel-paper rolls to use as tall towers. Liven up the base with your choice of colors. Add stickers to make a standout castle.

6. Create your own hungry, hungry caterpillar

For this cardboard tube craft, snip large or small tubes into equal-size pieces to form caterpillar segments. Paint the outside of each one green and the inside yellow. Glue, lace or tape the segments together. Attach one more segment to create the head. Add black pompom eyes and yellow chenille stick antennas.

7. Design camouflage binoculars

Paint two tubes camo colors. Or funk-ify them: Do one orange and one purple. Decorate with cutout shapes, colored bands of paper or stickers—whatever! Glue tubes together and attach a ribbon. Use your lenses to search the house for treasures.

8. Celebrate favorite turtle characters

Paint one tube green. Add eyes, a nose and a mouth, using paint, crayon, marker or an ordinary pencil. Tack on a felt bandana in whatever color you like. Make three more turtles with different color bandanas.

9. Compose wall art

Slice long and short tubes into 1-inch-wide rings, using as many rolls as possible. Piece circles together in any pattern. Use glue, paste, tape or paper clips to fasten. Go big and bold or make a mini. Finish your project in one day or keep it going.

Author Photo
By: Highlights Editorial