Written by Guest Contributor Holley Farley
Paper towel roll activities are essential in my preschool classroom. I use a lot of recycled materials in my classroom, and paper towel tubes are always on the top of the list. And bonus they are free.
Plus, It’s actually one of the few recyclables my husband doesn’t mind saving for me. Most of my “possibilities” are “trash” in his mind. #teacherlife
Discover 4 learning games that will keep your kids engaged using a basic paper towel roll.
4 Paper Towel Roll Activities for Kids
Give a paper towel tube to a kid and what is the first thing they want to do? Bang it and turn it into some type of weapon. Let’s channel that a bit.
You don’t have to read music to do this.
With younger kids, start out with one tube. You take a tube and tap a series of simple beats, then have your child/children copy it.
For instance, tap-tap-tap.
Then tap- tap-pause-tap-tap-pause, etc.
Keep going until your child can repeat the rhythm you have played.
With older kids, give them two tubes. Again, start out simply with one hand, then add the other hand until they have the rhythm. You can even tap the tubes together for a beat.
Color Sort Paper Towel Roll Activities
This is a game that even older preschoolers enjoy. I mix it up throughout the year to keep it fresh.
- 3 or more Paper Towel Tubes
- Construction Paper
- Plastic tub, box, or bowls to catch dropped objects.
- Wrap each paper towel tube with a different colored construction paper and tape it secured.
- Tape each tube to a wall and place a tub under the tubes to catch pom poms
- Gather pom poms the same color as the construction paper and place in a pile. Have your child drop pop poms into the correct tube.
You can play this a few ways:
- Practice counting. How many yellow? Which basket has more? Pick 2 pom poms at a time, Etc.
- Play against a timer. Kids love to race and try and beat the buzzer.
- Scatter around the room and make it harder to find and gather apples. It gets the wiggles out for sure.
Related: Sort Nature
Paper Towel Roll Activities To Teach About Sound
Getting children to listen is tough sometimes. This game will help them hone their “listening ears” skills that might be a little rusty. It will also teach them that different objects make different sounds, and that to make a sound, something must move.
- 5 or more paper towel tubes
- A roll of duct tape
- (Optional-construction or wrapping paper to cover outside of tubes)
- Objects that will move freely inside the tubes when tilted or shaken.
- Tape up one end on each tube SECURELY.
- Fill each tube with objects about ¼ full.
- Try using: Legos, beans, jingle bells, rice, and marbles
- Tape the other end SECURELY.
- Wrap each tube with paper if you want to distinguish each tube.
Now the fun begins!
Have your child slowly tilt the tube to one side and notice the sound. Tilt it back and forth. See if they can guess the sound.
Does it make a different sound if you shake it faster or slower? Can you tell if the objects are hard or soft? Heavy or light? Predict if the object you hear is what actually is inside.
Encourage them to use descriptive words. Does it clank? Rattle? Bang? Swoosh? Roll? Remind them that the objects don’t make sound unless they are moved and the way they are moved makes different sounds. Kids love it when we make up words to describe what are hearing.
You can unveil the tubes to see if their predictions were correct or keep them guessing and turn them into noise makers! Either way, it’s fun.
Dinosaur Letter Chomp
Boys and girls alike love dinosaurs. Me, too! This fun learning game lets kids chomp the alphabet like dinosaurs. Who wouldn’t’ love that?
- 3 Paper Towel Tubes
- 1 Clothes pin
- Cut a straight line about 2-3 inches down from the top opening of the tube towards the middle. Repeat 10 -11 times per tube.These will be the palm leaves of a tree.
- Two trees will have 10 branches, and the last will have 6.
- Write a letter of the alphabet on each branch hanging down.
- Optional: decorate your clothes pin to look like a dinosaur
Time To Play:
Have your child take the clothespin dinosaur and search for letters to chomp.
You can call out a letter and have them find it, say it, and chomp it by squeezing the clothespin on the letter.
- Search for letters of their name
- Search for letters of your name
- Use an alphabet puzzle or letter blocks, pull out a letter and find it on the trees to eat
Pin for later
It is officially time to stop throwing out the paper towel rolls and starts turning them into activities for your preschooler. Be sure to try some of these and let me know how it goes.
I want to thank Emily Lawson for giving me the opportunity to provide some ideas for learning. I hope it inspires you to keep being awesome teachers to your little ones. After all, parents are THE BEST teachers!!!”
Holley Farley is a teacher, author, blogger, trainer and consultant. She has taught children for over 30 years, but specializes in all things preschool. Over the years she has worn many hats, like Preschool Director, Curriculum Coordinator, Teacher, Children’s Minister, etc., but the one thing she am MOST proud of is being a mom to 3 amazing humans. You can connect with Holley and learn from her at her blog where she shares her experiences, hacks, and lessons learned in navigating these most important formative years. If you need someone to answer your SOS distress call, she is here to help!
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