Create a Cardboard Tube Activity Station in Under 20 Minutes

If you are new to our site, take a minute to check out these posts to help take the stress out of the mess of creating with your kids!

What you need:

You can enhance this with things you already have at home – felt, stickers, and so much more!

  • Things you probably have around the house
    • (Optional) Cardboard box
    • Toilet paper tubes
    • Paper towel tubes
    • Painters or masking tape
    • Extra items – stickers, felt, pompoms, etc.

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. (This does not change the price that you pay at all!) Regardless, all product recommendations are my own opinions.

Ideal Age Range:

Ideal age is 1 – 2.

Mess Factor:

Low. The only clean up will be the pompoms or other items you put out to play with.

Prep Time:

Under 20 Minutes



Gather the items that you have and get creative. You want to provide several areas where your toddler can manipulate the pompoms and experiment with different cause and effect actions.

I had an extra piece of blue felt and some tropical stickers, so I decided to loosely theme this as a tropical jungle. I secured the felt with an extra cardboard piece and then taped the largest box so that it was floating a bit off of the floor. I cut a square of cardboard and taped it so that I created a little “diving board” for the pompoms to direct them into the box as they fall.

I arranged one small tube above the box and one larger tube above that. The idea is that your kid can experiment with putting a pompom through both tubes or just through the smaller tube and always hit the box at the bottom.

I used a few other smaller tubes at angles to create different places to drop a car or a pompom.

Pompoms were an easy choice for me to use since we have a variety of sizes and they fit in all of our tubes. We also had some smaller cars that travel well through the cardboard tubes. I think these are the best items, but you can also experiment with small items you might have like marbles, bouncy balls, or even Hatchimals. (As with everything, watch for choking hazards.)

My 1 year explored this activity center for about 30 minutes the first time and several other times over the next few days. He loved seeing what would happen when he dropped a pompom through the tubes. My older son also loved playing with him and helping him discover!

If you would like to pin this activity, please use the image below.

Let's Chat!