Recycled Art: Crafting with Paper Towel Rolls

If your house is anything like mine, you go through a lot of paper towels and probably end up with a lot of empty tubes. Paper towel tubes are the perfect recycled art supply! You can make nearly anything with a paper towel tube and little creativity! 

Try one of these creative ideas if you need a fun rainy-day craft!

Paper Towel Necklaces

This adorable idea from Eighteen25 is easy and fun to make! 


  • Paper towel rolls
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon or string
  • Paint 
  • Paintbrush


  1. Cut the rolls into 2″ sections
  2. Paint various colors
  3. Once dried, thread them on a piece of string

Paper towel tube necklaces are an excellent way to develop color recognition, work on patterns, and practice counting.

Tubular Owls

These adorable little owls are from Fresh and Fun. Your child’s creativity can soar as they experiment with colors, patterns, and shapes. Resist the urge to “correct” your child if they place the beak at the bottom or add three wings.

Art projects should be about the process, not the finished project! To learn more about crafting with kids and the importance of open-ended art for young learners, check out my book, 50 Things About Crafting with Preschoolers.


  • Paper towel rolls
  • Scissors
  • Paint 
  • Paintbrush
  • Glue
  • Googly Eyes
  • Fabric Scraps


  1. Cut the rolls in half and paint the desired colors
  2. Allow them to dry
  3. Once dry, push the tops in to make owl ears
  4. Use glue to add googly eyes
  5. Cut wings and a beak from the fabric scraps and glue

This adorable craft is the ideal recycled art craft because it uses so many reusable pieces you probably have around your home already!

Paper Towel Roll Trees

Use excess paper towel rolls any time of year to make these adorable trees! This crafty idea is from MW Craft Studio. Watch the full tutorial on above!


Depending on the type of tree your child is making you will need different supplies but the basic ones needed are:

  • Paper towel rolls
  • Scissors
  • Brown paper bags
  • Colored construction paper
  • Glue or tape


Depending on your child’s age you may need to prep some of the supplies first. However, older preschoolers and kindergartners can practice their cutting skills with pre-traced leaves.

  1. Attach the brown paper bag to one end of the paper towel roll
  2. Use a marker to draw branches on the bag
  3. Cut the branches out
  4. Trace or pre-cut flowers and leaves
  5. Encoruage your child to glue the flowers and leaves on the tree

Paper Towel Sandcastle

This adroable little project from Make Early Learning Fun is the perfect recycled art summer project! This simple project is sensory loaded and only requires a few supplies!


  • Paper towel rolls
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Craft Sand & glitter (optional)
  • Paper plates


  • Cut the paper towel rolls to look like a castle turret
  • Cover one paper plate in sand and glitter
  • Coat the rolls in glue
  • Roll the glue coated rolls in the sand
  • Allow the rolls to dry then glue them to the plate

Your child can jazz up this project by adding seashells, small ocean creatures, or making water from tissue or construction paper.

Updated May, 18, 2023, by L. Elizabeth Forry

written by

L. Elizabeth Forry 

L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with fifteen years of classroom teaching experience. She earned a Master of Science in Early Childhood Education from The University of North Dakota and has a Bachelor of Arts in English and one in Music from Lebanon Valley College. She has taught children in Japan, Washington D.C., Chicago, and suburban Maryland. She is trained as a reading therapist, has a TEFL certification, and has done extensive work with children regarding mental health, social-emotional development, gender development. She has written curriculum for children and educators and has led training sessions for parents and educators on various topics on early childhood development. She is the mother of two boys and resides outside of Annapolis, Maryland.

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