Easy Toddler Activity: Paper towel roll Engineering



I am a hoarder of toilet paper rolls, plastic food tubs, and paper towel rolls…to name a few. This activity used up my paper towel rolls in a completely satisfying way, ha! The great thing was that it was so easy – all you need is the rolls and some tape (I used masking tape that comes off easily). I also used a big piece of saved packing paper to make cleanup even simpler, instead of taping the tubes directly to the wall, but definitely not a must.

We built tunnel slides for little balls – we used those little poof balls that you get at craft stores, but marbles would also work well for an older kid who will definitely not put them inside a mouth. Now, I can feel like I am encouraging my daughter to be anything she wants to be – including an architect or engineer, since I’m giving her the types of toy experiences that build those skills sets and encourage her that having fun doesn’t have to revolve around dolls or kitchen toys, ha! Plus, this is a lesson in problem solving, since the ball only rolled through to its final destination when we placed the rolls in the right types of ways – close enough together that the ball didn’t escape out the side and at a high enough angle to keep up its momentum for reaching the bottom.

As you can see, we started with one tube at an approximate 45 degree angle, then we added one straight down to establish a finish point, and from there, we enjoyed all types of trial and error – my Honey had to weigh in when he got home. We left up our slides for a few days of on-and-off experimental play.




1. paper towel rolls that have been used up and saved (at least 3, depending on how old your kid is)

2. small ball that will fit, or pom-poms

3. tape – preferably masking tape, in my opinion, or anything that won’t leave residue on your wall and is easy to peel off

Setup: 10/10

All you gotta do is save up some used paper towel rolls, or toilet paper rolls would work just as well! Then, gather some tape and a little ball or fuzzy pom-pom.

Entertainment: 10/10

Pen Elaine was excited to see where the “ball” ended up with each test run, after adding or angling or taking away paper towel tubes. She loves tape, in general, as well…haha. We made a little “nest” for the ball to land in at the end of the slide, too, that was fun for little feminine heart.

Education: 10/10

I feel like a good mom on this one – encouraging a variety of skilled play for my daughter with opportunity to explore play that builds engineering skills. This activity encourages problem-solving, math concepts, and fine motor skills.

Cleanup: 10/10

Since I even taped my tubes to a paper (taped to wall), the cleanup was simply tear off and roll off for the trash.



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