DIY Your Own Imaginative Play Scenes, Cities, and Vehicles

In retrospect, I give my parents a great deal of credit on their outlook on toys. We virtually never got anything new unless it was a special occasion such as birthdays or Christmas. I can remember feeling envious of my friends who seemed to have so much more “stuff” than we did, but I recently reconnected with a childhood playmate (social media is so awesome) who told me she always loved coming to my house because we had the best toys.

My mom and dad did choose quality over quantity, and the playthings we had were well made and entertaining. Most of them prompted imaginative play, such as puppets, blocks, and playsets with houses, schools, or other scenes where my siblings, friends, and I brought little toy people to life.

One of my most favorite toys did come from a store, but not in the traditional way. I picked up what I now believe to have been a cardboard wine box (with permission from the clerk), as it had vertical and horizontal cardboard slats inserted to create dividers. I carried it home to my bedroom where I turned it onto its side. After spending hours drawing, coloring and cutting objects out of construction paper and old magazines, I had created an apartment building. Each segment was a unique apartment and a variety of cardboard people occupied the rooms.

My friends and I played with that upcycled box for at least a year, making it well worth the trouble of carting it home. To this day, I never miss an opportunity to take something headed for the trash bin and turn it into something fun for our own batch of little ones. Not only is doing so environmentally- and budget-friendly, but it encourages kids to put their imaginations in gear. Need some ideas? Check out these adorable, engaging play scenes you can make with your children from lowly, leftover toilet paper rolls:

image via Crafts Boom

Crafts Boom Princess Castle

Although this play scene has a name that makes it seem like a girl’s toy, you could easily make this castle by Crafts Boom as the beginning of an upcycled medieval kingdom for any child who loves knights, royalty, or fairy tale imaginative play.

You can start this castle with as few as four toilet paper or paper towel tubes or use a bunch to make taller towers and multiple buildings. Add construction paper turrets in your child’s favorite colors. Draw on doors and windows or get really creative and cut them carefully out of the tubes. Glue all of the towers onto a slab of corrugated cardboard salvaged from a box you do not need.

Be sure to check out the entire post, as there are also suggestions on building larger fortresses with more complex (and entertaining!) features, such as bridges and fortified walls or flags made from toothpicks and brightly colored paper.

image via Kids Activities Blog

City Build and Play Stacking Toy

Some kids seem to be born builders. Such is the case with the eldest little in our family. It doesn’t matter if you hand him a box of Lego bricks, a bin full of wooden train tracks, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, or cans and boxes from the pantry; he will figure out something to build.

This play set by Kids Activities Blog is perfect for these young engineers. Start collecting those empty toilet paper, paper towel and giftwrap tubes now because you will want to make a bunch of these building “blocks.” A little paint lets you create skyscraper-style windows on the cardboard rolls and a few strategic snips turn the rolls into stackable cylinders. If your little builder is also fond of painting, you could create truly custom stacking toys decorated just as they choose. In addition, you can easily add to the collection as time goes on.

image via

Lizon Space Rocket

Boost those STEAM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) with an out-of-this-world vehicle that kids can build using toilet paper rolls and other basic materials. Your tiny astronaut can design, put together, and decorate a rocket ship that will encourage hours of imaginative play.

This idea by Lizon is posted on a non-English language website, but the pictures are plentiful and many web browsers offer translation add-ons you can use to interpret the instructions. Google Chrome should translate automatically; if it does not, you can manually translate it by clicking the “Translate Page” icon at the right end of the address bar next to the star.

Scissors, a hole punch, glue, elastic bands, and of course, a stash of toilet rolls is essentially all you need to create a cool space rocket that will take your kiddo’s favorite action figure to nearby planets or far off galaxies. A little paint, a few crayons, or some stickers allow kids to make their space crafts look just right.

You can make so many types of play scenes for or with your kids. Consider what they love to do and then brainstorm some ideas using castoff items that are easy to find and customize. You will all be glad that you did.

Which of these imaginative toilet roll crafts will you be making with your kiddo? Share your DIY creations with us!

Cover image via

Tags : arts and crafts   DIY toys   upcycle   

James Zordan
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James Zordan
I have just read your story and its quit interesting for their loved one's. After reading your story, one line that stuck in my mind i.e. Not all the things in the trash bin are waste its our mind which consider them to waste but actual that thing can fit in a different level of craftivity. That's why we make one craftivity with our mind which offers best low cost web hosting coupons and promo codes of the top companies.