What Can You Learn from a Cardboard Tube?

Patrick came home with a large cardboard tube used for carpet rolls.  He and his uncle planned to cut it in half and use it to ship a fishing pole back to his uncle’s house.  What to do with the other half? What do you think you can learn from a cardboard tube?

What Can You Learn from a Cardboard Tube?

What Can You Learn from a Cardboard Tube?

Aiden claimed the cardboard tube immediately.  He loves tunnels  {he points out all the “tunnels” in the world – tree tunnels, electric lines, anything that goes over the top of you can be a “tunnel.”

Aiden started placing items in the tube.  I showed him how to turn the tube into a tunnel ramp by adding it to the step ladder.

He joyfully added toy after toy to the top of the tube and awaited their arrival at the base.

Oh wait!  The car got stuck.  “Mama, it’s stuck!  Car stuck!”

Learning about Friction with a Cardboard Tube

Learning about Friction

Oooh, friction.  I was really excited to see the stuck car.  Did I choose to take the opportunity to introduce the word friction and discuss the science behind it?  Not this day.  He’s only two, and any explanation would really be over his head.  Why then was I so excited?  Because he got to experience friction.  He got to see the car stop in the middle of the tube when most of the other toys went right down.  He will start forming connections and ideas about this in his mind.  This creates a base for learning about friction in the future – scaffolding is the teacher term.

I showed him how to lift the tube and watch the car arrive at the bottom.  We overcame friction.  Any time an object got stuck in the tube, Aiden lifted the tube.  He was very excited that he learned this trick.

Learning about Friction with a Cardboard Tube
The sock is stuck. What to do?
Learning about Friction with a Cardboard Tube
Lift the tube, and the sock falls down.

Do you see the next problem?

Learning about Size and Making Predictions with a Cardboard Tube
The truck is too big.

Learning about Size, Making Predictions, & Sorting

The truck won’t fit inside the tube.  Now what to do?  “Is there a solution for this one, Mama?” was the look Aiden gave me.  Nope, sorry.  The truck is too big.  And there is another lesson we’ve been learning.  “It’s too big.”  It won’t go down the tube.  It’s too big for the box.  It’s too big to live in the tree.  He says things are too big sometimes when there’s really another explanation for his observation, but we are learning.

Making Observations and Predictions with a Cardboard Tube
Watching things go down the tube.

Aiden started making predictions about what would go down the tube.  I would ask, “Will ___ fit down the tube?”  Aiden would say yes or no and then try it out.  He placed all of the objects that wouldn’t fit in a separate pile on the couch.

Bonus Clean-up Tip

I have a fun little clean up tip for you.

Use a Cardboard Tube to Make Clean-up a Game

This was a Daddy idea.  Aiden’s toys were all over the living room, so Daddy grabbed the tube and a toy bin.  He started dropping things down the tube.  Oh, cool…they ended up in the bin.  Aiden had to imitate Daddy {which I find completely adorable}.  Aiden ran around the room collecting toys to put down the tube {and into the bin}.  When he ran out of toys, can you guess what he did?  He dumped the bin out and started over.  Repetition is a toddler’s best friend {and favorite pass time}.

We just played with our cardboard tube without any modifications, but Marnie from Carrots Are Orange had the idea to paint hers and attach them to the wall to make them a part of the room.  I like this idea.  My son would love the painting, but I doubt he would go for attaching it to the wall unless he could take it down to play whenever he wanted.

The next time you have the opportunity to grab a large cardboard tube, take it and enjoy the fun.

What other ways have you created ramps or tunnels?

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