Mini Monets and Mommies: Recycled and Reused: Cardboard Tube Mobile

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Recycled and Reused: Cardboard Tube Mobile

Earth Day is coming up, and it's time for some recycling and reuse kids' art activities! Americans use roughly 69 million tons of paperboard and paper products each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. When I think about my own trash, I bet that a large percentage of that figure contains empty cardboard tubes. When the toilet paper or paper towels are all used up, that cardboard roll’s job is over. Instead of tossing it, breathe new life into the cardboard and repurpose it as an art material.

Kids' art

Cardboard tubes are open-ended enough (and, literally too!) to make multitudes of crafty creations and kids' art activities. One of my favorites is the cardboard tube (that sounds better than empty toilet paper roll) mobile. Not only does this activity get the kids’ creativity flowing, but it adds in a bonus lesson in science (you can explore how the weather affects the mobile if you hang it outside or look at the role that gravity plays on the rolls).

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·         Two to four or more cardboard tubes

·         Scissors

·         Tempera paints

·         Paintbrush

·         Two sticks, wooden dowels or plastic straws

·         Yarn or thin ribbon

·         Hole punch

Here’s What to Do:

1.      Pour golf ball-sized pools of tempera paints onto a paper plate or art palette.

2.      Give your little one a paintbrush (or let her use her fingers) to paint the tubes. Go with solid colors or add stripes, polka dots or a swirly mixed-up pattern. Let the tubes dry completely.

3.      Help your child to make new shapes out of the old cardboard tubes using kids’ safety scissors. Cut slits in the sides and fold the tube accordion style or start at the bottom and create a spiral cut all of the way to the top.

4.      Punch a hole at the top of each tube shape.

5.      Tie a piece of yarn or thin ribbon through each hole. Our child can thread it through on her own, but you may need to help her make the knot. If she’s an older preschooler, use this opportunity to teach her how to tie a bow (just like on her shoe laces).

Children's crafts
6.      Ask your child to make a plus sign or an X with the sticks/dowels/straws. Help her to tie them together in the center with yarn or ribbon. She’ll need to weave the yarn around the center of the sticks to hold them in place (going over, under, over, under).

Kids' activities
7.      Using the free end of the yarn/ribbon, help your child to tie each cardboard tube to one end of the plus sign.

Sculpture crafts
8.      Wrap another piece of yarn or string around the center of the plus sign. Leave the other end free, using it to hang the mobile up.

Are you looking for more creative kids' crafts? Follow my Pinterest board for art ideas!

Follow Mini Monets and Mommies's board Creative Kids Crafts on Pinterest.


  1. Very pretty and a great way to recycle trash into something usable! Thanks for sharing with After School Link Up!

  2. Actually it’s a very nice post….You want to sell old mobile online at