How-to: Build Newspaper Structures with Your Kids–It’s a Toy that You Can Recycle!

structures built from rolled newspapers

Cold and wet and dismal outside?

There’s nothing like staying inside, doing some math enrichment with the kids!

Newspaper, rolled tightly and taped, makes an excellent, large-format building toy. It’s also great for three more reasons:

  1. Upcycled newspaper=a free craft supply.
  2. Newspaper crafts=more value from your newspaper subscription.
  3. Recycled newspaper, post-play=a clean house.

Here’s how to turn yesterday’s newspaper into a temporary toy that your kids will love using to increase their spatial reasoning abilities.

rolled newspaper tubes
Start rolling the newspaper around a thin marker or paper straw–this will help you make the roll tight enough.

To make your toy, place two full sheets of newspaper on top of each other, roll them very tightly from one corner to the opposite corner, and secure with a small piece of masking tape.

tape off the newspaper tube
Tape off the newspaper tube with a small piece of masking tape.

That’s it!

To make the best tight roll, use something to start you off. I’m using a thin marker and then pulling it out of the tube each time, but if you have something like paper straws, which can go into the recycling, too, then you wouldn’t have to remove them from the finished tubes, and your newspaper tubes would be all the tighter and sturdier for them.

My kiddos “helped” with the creation of the newspaper tubes, but neither of them had the ability to roll the newspaper tightly enough, so as soon as we had a half-dozen or so tubes done, I encouraged them to start building, and then assigned myself to the job of making newspaper tubes as fast as they could use them.

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Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

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