Prep: 5 Minutes / Activity Time: 5-7 Minutes

Here is an opportunity to engage your child in a two-part activity that will strengthen those fine motor muscles of the hand and fingers. First, she will have the opportunity to scribble and draw on an interesting and new surface: paper towel rolls! Next, after you cut the paper towel rolls into two-inch wheels, your toddler can string them together using rope, twine or yarn.

  • 1 or 2 paper towel rolls
  • scented markers
  • rope, twine or yarn (about 2-3 feet)
  • masking tape
  • handheld mirror (optional)

Step 1: Gather several paper towel rolls and some markers. Explain to your child that she is going to color on something different today. You might find writing tools she has not tried yet like scented markers. Be ready for lots of experimental smelling of these markers and an occasional accidental touch of marker to her nose. If desired, have a mirror handy to add to the fun. Talk about how easy or hard it is to draw on the paper towel roll, the colors of the markers and the smells she can recognize. For example:

Today we are going to draw on something different. Do you know what these are? They are paper towel rolls. Here are some new markers; each color has a smell. Choose one. Let me show you how to open it and smell! What do you smell? Can you put orange on the paper towel roll?

Step 2: After she is finished drawing on the paper towel roll, cut the roll into wheels about 2 inches wide. This will create paper towel “beads” that she will string on the rope, twine or yarn.

Step 3: Cut a length of yarn, twine or rope about 2-3 feet long. For her first try, use the rope as it may be easier to hold and string through the paper towel beads. Add masking tape to one end of the piece of rope or twine to create a firm place for her to hold as she threads through the cardboard beads. Assist as needed, holding the bead for her as she laces it through.

Step 4: When she is finished beading, tie the ends together and she can wear her creation as a necklace. Don’t forget to display or let her show to other family members or friends.