Do your kids actually bother to throw away empty toilet paper rolls after they’ve used them up? Come to think of it, dad, do you bother to throw away empty toilet paper rolls after you’ve used them up? Thought not. Well here’s the ideal excuse (you can thank us later). You’re saving them for the enormous variety of creative activities that they lend themselves to. And just to prove the point, you’ve dug up this post of 20 activities that you can do with empty toilet paper rolls.

20131015 Toilet Seat Prenup
Toilet paper rolls are really handy when it comes to crafting for kids of all ages. Just like the range of activities that normally take place in the littlest room in the house, they can be used to make things ranging from the purely artistic to the very practical. We had a guest writer give us some suggestions in a much earlier post, but frankly those were pretty bog-standard, and hit the bottom of the pan in terms of quality, so we thought we’d wipe those away, and lift the lid on some much better ones in this post.

We asked Suzanne to do some research for us and come up with a practical and fun list of things to do with toilet rolls. So read on to learn how you can reduce, reuse and recycle and make the most of this abundant and free resource.

Toilet Paper Roll Craft Activities For Toddlers And Pre-School Kids

  1. One extremely simple and easy craft for very small children to do with toilet paper rolls is to simply paint them. Children who don’t yet have a lot of fine motor skill enjoy slapping paint on toilet paper rolls. This actually can be good groundwork for other toilet roll activities – having pre-painted toilet paper rolls on hand makes it quick and easy to do a toilet paper roll craft activity at the drop of a hat. It’s also an excellent and useful activity for kids with disabilities.
  2. It is very easy for parents to make an alphabet learning game for little ones using 26 toilet paper rolls and 26 ping pong balls. You’ll need a permanent marker to write the letters of the alphabet on each of the rolls and on each corresponding ping pong ball (given these are toilet rolls, probably more pong than ping). The labeled toilet paper rolls can be set up in order in a line or in a random grouping. One child can play alone by simply matching the ping pong ball with the corresponding tube and dropping the ball into the tube. For more fun, an adult or older child can call out the letters or sound out the letters so that players can locate the right ball to pop into the right tube. Although this is a very simple toilet paper roll craft activity, you will be surprised how many hours of fun toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy with this educational game.
  3. Another very simple game activity can be created using toilet paper rolls, empty egg cartons and muffin tins. Toddlers and preschoolers will love this simple (and arguably inane) activity. All you need is a muffin tin, an empty cardboard egg carton and a collection of toilet paper rolls cut in half. You can also add small objects such as play balls or toys that are large enough not to be swallowed. The goal of the activity is simple. Your child can enjoy placing the half toilet paper rolls in the muffin cups or over the raised areas of the egg carton and fitting various small toys and objects into the toilet paper rolls and cups. Again, this may seem like an extraordinarily simple toilet paper roll project, and it is; however, it can add up to hours of fun, great fine motor skill practice and easy, enjoyable creativity.
  4. Toddlers and pre-school kids will enjoy using toilet paper roll stamps to create a wide variety of shapes and patterns. Rolls can be bent into heart, star, oval, cat’s-eye, triangular and other shapes for use with finger paints or to press shapes into play-dough.

Toilet Paper Roll Crafts For Elementary School Age Kids

  1. Toilet paper rolls can be painted to create finger puppets of all kinds. You can start with plain or pre-painted rolls. Add eyes (as many as you like) mouth, hair, teeth. Only your child’s imagination and the amount of craft supplies on hand limit the possibilities. Kids can also carry this project one step further by gluing their crazy puppets to a backing of sturdy cardboard to make an interesting or amusing wall hanging.
  2. Little girls between the ages of about six and ten will enjoy making cuff bracelets with toilet paper rolls. You need one roll to make a pair of bracelets. Just cut the roll in half and then slit each half to make a cuff that will fit over a child’s wrist. You can start out with a pre-painted toilet paper roll and then just decorate each cuff as you like by gluing on sequins, beads and jewels. You can also start with a plain toilet paper roll, glue decorations like macaroni and other interesting shapes onto the halves (after cutting the roll in half and slitting it) and then spray paint the cuffs. You can use any colour you want, but gold, silver or bronze are really pretty choices.
  3. For Halloween, kids can make some scary eyes to hide around the house and yard using toilet paper rolls and glow sticks. For this you can just use plain toilet paper rolls. There’s no need to paint them or decorate them unless you just want to. All you do is cut out a pair of eyes in the side of the toilet paper roll, slip in a glow stick and hide it in the bushes or anywhere you like to create a spooky Halloween atmosphere. Be sure to cut the eyes in lots of different shapes like diamond, oval, cat’s-eyes, half moons, triangles and so on as you would for a Jack O’ Lantern.
  4. Make a mini-rain stick by placing a toilet paper roll inside a snack size plastic bag (not the zip-lock kind). Pour about a quarter cup of dry rice or small beans or lentils inside the roll and pull the bag snug around the roll to keep the rice, beans or lentils from falling out. Tape it securely with any kind of tape. Wrap the whole thing carefully in gift wrap or cloth and secure it carefully with tape and/or hot glue. If you use hot glue, let it dry overnight for maximum strength. To hear the “rain” just tilt your mini-rain stick back and forth gently or shake it for a maraca effect.

Fun And Practical Toilet Paper Roll Crafts For pre and early Teens

  1. If your teens are fortunate enough to have their own mobile phone or tablet, get them back to basics creating a speaker and stand for their iPhone or other small tablet device. This is really quick and easy. Use a painted or plain toilet paper roll. Just set the edge of your device against the side of the roll and draw around it carefully with a felt tipped marker. You will probably want to put the case on your device so you don’t accidentally mark on it. Carefully cut out the area you have just marked to make an opening your device will fit through. Set your device into the slot you have made and play. You will have nice, loud sound. You can also use four push pin thumb tacks to make legs if you want to make a more stable stand. Of course, you can decorate your speaker/stand any way you want.
  2. Make a little scrapbook with toilet paper rolls by completely flattening pre-painted rolls and punching two or three holes in one end of each roll. Be sure the holes are in exactly the same place on each roll because you are going to attach the rolls together with twine, jute , ribbon or yarn. Stack the flattened rolls together and lace them up. Once you have them connected, you have a little book with pockets (the insides of the TP rolls). Use these pockets to stash movie tickets and other small trinkets and memorabilia. Of course you can decorate your scrapbook any way you like with stamps, glitter, stickers, etc.
  3. Make a toilet paper roll gift package by simply flattening and decorating a pre-painted toilet paper roll and folding one end shut. Don’t fold the whole thing over. First fold one side in and then fold the other side over it. Put your tiny gifts, candy or what-have-you inside and then fold the other end shut. Wrap decorative ribbon around it and tie it securely to keep your little gift closed until the recipient is ready to open it.
  4. Teen girls can organize hair clips and bands quickly and easily with a toilet paper roll. Just stand it upright on your vanity and secure clips and pins to the top. Wrap bands around the body. You can use a plain toilet paper roll, a pre-painted one or you can decorate it any way you like with adhesive backed plastic, stickers, markers or whatever you please.

Gardening And Outdoorsy Toilet Paper Roll Crafts

  1. Kids can get a head start on gardening by starting seeds indoors during the late winter and early spring. Recycle disposable plastic boxes like the kind baked goods and takeout food are packaged in or the kind berries are packed in. Cut toilet paper rolls in half and fit them neatly into the boxes. Add potting soil and plant a seed of your choice into each mini-pot you have created using a toilet paper roll. Place your little garden in a sunny window and keep the soil slightly moist. Soon your seedlings will pop up. When all danger of frost is past, you can plant them in your garden easily by gently lifting each little toilet paper roll section out and planting it right into the ground. The cardboard will decompose and turn into soil. Remember to put the plastic containers into your recycling bin.
  2. Another good craft for young gardeners is to make bird feeders out of toilet paper rolls. This is very easy. You just coat the toilet paper roll with peanut butter and then roll it in bird seed. You can just place these little bird feeders on tree limbs for the birds to enjoy. They will really appreciate this during the winter months.
  3. Little birdwatchers will appreciate a pair of toilet paper roll binoculars. Just staple two pre-painted toilet paper rolls together side-by-side. Punch a hole on the outside edge of each one and string through a length of yarn or ribbon to make it easy to wear the binoculars around the neck. Along the same lines, you can easily make a paper towel roll telescope so that little ones can enjoy viewing the stars on camping trips.
  4. Kids who love camping can help parents prepare for a camping trip by making some great fire starters using toilet paper rolls and dryer lint. This is a very easy and practical craft project. You just use plain toilet paper rolls and stuff them with lint from the dryer. Package them neatly in a paper or plastic bag for easy packing. Your parents will have an easy time starting fires on your next camping trip.

Family Toilet Paper Roll Crafts And Projects

  1. Keep the craft table tidy by making a quick and easy caddy for markers, pencils, paint brushes and other long, skinny supplies. All you need is a shoebox or other box that is just about as tall as a toilet paper roll is long. You can always trim the rolls to fit perfectly. You’ll also need some wrapping paper and as many empty toilet paper rolls as it takes to fill the box. Wrap the box in the wrapping paper leaving the top open, of course. Then simply place the toilet paper rolls on end in the box until the box is full. You can either have a very tight fit by putting in toilet paper rolls until there is no room at all, or you can leave a little wiggle room if you think you will want to move your pens and other art supplies around a little bit. This is a super simple way to make a very handy accessory for your craft table.
  2. The whole family can enjoy making your very own Christmas tree or tree for any occasion out of toilet paper rolls! You may really wonder how this can be possible, and it is very ingenious. You need a tomato cage (that’s the metal support structure that gardeners use to keep tomato plants from falling over), lots and lots of toilet paper rolls and plenty of paint, sparkles, ribbons, and decorations of all kinds. This is where having lots of pre-painted toilet paper rolls on hand can be extremely helpful. To create your own toilet paper roll holiday tree, just set the tomato cage upside down and secure the loose wire part (the part that pokes into the ground) with wire, string or twine. If you need to paint your toilet paper rolls, do it now and let them dry overnight so that you can decorate them. Before you begin decorating, slit one side of each roll. Decorate the rolls as you like and allow glue and paint to dry overnight. Once all of your decorative toilet paper rolls are dry, simply slip the slit side over the wire of the tomato cage. You’ll be surprised by how good it looks once all the wire parts are covered with decorated toilet paper rolls. Then you can add other decorations and a tree topper as you wish. This is a project that will take several days, but it is well worth the time and effort.
  3. Your family can also use this same method to create a toilet paper roll wreath. Just take a metal coat hanger and pull it into a circular shape. Slip painted, decorated toilet paper rolls with one side slit over the metal. Add festive decorations, and voila! You have a wreath to match your tree!
  4. Make a toilet paper roll star for the top of your tree by cutting a couple of toilet paper rolls into half inch sections. You should have about ten sections. Flatten the sections to create a cat’s-eye shape. Lay the sections out on a non-stick surface and arrange them so that the points of one end of each section come together to form the center of your star. Put a glob of hot glue in the middle to stick the points together and let it dry overnight. Once dry, carefully lift your star and either spray it with adhesive and coat it with glitter or spray paint it gold or silver. You can attach it to the top of your tree with very thin (invisible) thread or wire or with decorative ribbon or any other decorative choice that suits your fancy.

There’s no limit to the number of enjoyable, creative, practical and fun uses for toilet paper rolls. And although we’ve helped dads and little kids everywhere justify why they don’t throw empty rolls away, we’re not able to help on why that toilet seat stays up. Sorry!

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