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Tubular Math & Science

15-30 Minutes: 2 and up: STEM
STEM Activities tubular math science

Tubular Math & Science

STEM Activities tubular math science


Classification and sorting can take on a more personal meaning when children use items they've created themselves. This activity gives children an opportunity to use recycled household materials, create their own manipulatives and sort them by pattern or color.

Set Up Ideas

Have tempera paints in a variety of colors ready for children to begin painting. You may also wish to add some simple collage items for more unique rolls.

Let’s Get Started

For this activity, you'll need to gather several large and small craft rolls. Using whole paper towel rolls or ones cut into smaller sizes can be a great way to use recycled materials. You'll also need tempera paint and paint brushes to decorate the craft rolls and a meter stick to practice patterns.


Have a painting party and have the children paint all of the empty rolls that you have collected. Make sure to use several colors.


After the rolls are dry, have the children sort the rolls into sets for each color. You may stack the rolls together, or simply group them together.


If the children are able to recognize repeating patterns, have them thread the rolls onto a meter stick to create a repeating pattern.


If you are discussing animals in science or want to add a fun twist, have children paint stripes, spots or hair lines on the rolls to represent animals and repeat the sorting activity.

This activity is a great opportunity to broach a number of topics with small children. Discuss the colors that they've used to paint their rolls. What is their favorite color? Count with them how many rolls there are of each color. How many did they paint?


Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks

For a little added fun, allow the children to add some collage items such as pom poms or sequins to their craft rolls. Just make sure that the base color is clear so that they can classify it.

Follow up Activity

Follow up Activity

For a fun way to use those craft rolls and practice counting, try craft roll bowling! Line the painted craft rolls up like bowling pins and use a ball or small object to knock them down. Who can score the most?

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