Parents with toddlers can integrate simple and fun STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) activities in their daily routine during playtime. And even though kids at this age (2-3 years old) are not independent enough to perform these STEAM activities alone as compared to older children, they will for sure enjoy playing with the DIY toys listed below. Moms and dads will also be entertained at the same time! Parents and toddlers will love to create together these easy-to-make bucket, rainmaker, boat, artwork and binoculars. These toys are made up of cardboard tube rolls which are readily available at home. Cardboard tube rolls can be a toilet paper roll, gift wrap roll or a paper towel roll. Alright, so here are the activities!

Tube Roll STEAM Activities 

Create flaps
Fold flaps

1. Bucket & Pulley (science)

Show how a pulley works with your toddlers by first setting up a bucket with the use of a tissue paper roll. Create flaps at the bottom of the roll with 4 cuts. Fold the flaps and tape them to close the bottom part of roll. Decorate (optional) and attach a string. Lastly, place the bucket/string in a doorknob and your pulley is ready. 

TIPS: Learning activities with a pulley

Some learning activities for toddlers can include (1) teaching “up” and “down” concepts. Let your kids pull the string towards themselves so the bucket goes “up”. And let go of the string slowly so the bucket goes “down”. Toddlers can also (2) identify colors by using materials such as pompoms and placing them one by one inside the bucket. Lastly, (3) let them count the materials (e.g. plastic lids with numbers) while putting them inside the bucket.
Twist the foil
Play with other musical instruments

2. Rainmaker (technology)

Close one side of a paper towel roll by creating and folding flaps (similar to making a bucket). Obtain a sheet of aluminum foil and fold it lengthwise creating a “stick’. Twist the foil and let your kid insert it inside the tube roll. Allow your toddler to put two full spoons of rice inside the tube roll and close it off (same procedure as above – create and fold flaps). Decorate as needed and your DIY rainmaker is ready to use.

LEARNING ACTIVITY: Use the rainmaker together with other toy instruments to create great music! Here is a cute commercial rainmaker.

3. Boat (engineering)

Create a hole in the middle of the tissue paper roll (big enough to insert a straw). Cover the roll with a foam paper and close the sides with the use of a stapler (for parents). Cut a triangle shape from another foam paper and help your toddlers place it in one side of a straw using a tape. Insert the straw in the tube roll’s hole. And the boat is complete! Tips: flatten the tube roll first before inserting the straw so the boat can float better.
Create a hole

TIPS: Learning activity with a "boat"

Teach your toddlers about “float” and “sink” scientific concepts by adding heavy toys or materials in your container with water. This provides an obvious contrast between a floating boat and sinking toys.
Tube rolls for arts

4. Painting with tube rolls (arts)

Shape the paper tube rolls into different shapes and provide some paints. Let your kid’s creativity unfolds.


Let your little ones identify the shapes before the painting session. Additionally, you can create your own shape mat for a simple matching game.

5. Binoculars (math and technology)

Decorate (optional) 2 tissue paper rolls. We used a construction paper and washi tape. Put the 2 tissue paper rolls together with the use of a stapler (or a glue). Attach a string on one side and the pair of binocular is ready to use (technology)! To add the math concept (size), create a smaller set of binoculars. Help your toddlers compare big vs small DIY toys.

And that wraps up our simple and easy to set up STEAM ideas!

If you would like to get more information, please subscribe below and I will send you a PDF of simplified definition of STEAM! 

Till next time,



Toddler steam


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