Creativity with Toilet Paper Rolls


Whenever I decide to contact a Community TV station for a science demo or put together a few easy experiments to do with kids, they all involve three things:

  • Science
  • Art
  • Easily found objects from my home or dollar store

Toilet paper rolls are plentiful in my house, especially when all the girls are home.  I save every empty roll.  Every. Last. One.

Although there are some really fun science experiments that can be done with toilet paper rolls, I would like to focus on art in this post.

Even though I consider myself to be an artist, I am not proficient at painting or drawing real life objects.  Fortunately, I have carried over my finger-painting skills from when I was a child.

As a kid, painting with your whole hands is fun mostly because its messy.  As an adult, finger-painting makes us feel like a kid again!  It is essentially play.

Play is one of the best things we can do for our brain.  It’s really difficult to think about anything other than the paper when your fingers are coated in brightly coloured paint. Play makes the time fly and we feel a certain sense of accomplishment or exhilaration when we are done.

If you are one of the finger-painting squeamish, you could use a toilet paper roll and some watercolour paper.

For the picture below, I cut the bottom half of a roll into a hula fringe, with each piece being about a centimetre wide.  After fanning the hula skirt out 90 degrees from the roll, I dipped the fringe into paint that I had poured onto wax paper.

Swirling the fringe around on a piece of paper creates a pretty circular pattern. Once I was I happy with the affect, I dipped the toilet roll paint brush into another colour of paint for more swirls.

I added  blue, green, and purple swirls but I wanted more shapes.  Dipping the end of the paper tube into black paint allowed me to stamp circles all over my paper; that was the start of some serious black paint improv.

Several  finger swirls, dots and circles added some interest to the paper.  Afterward, I grabbed a white gel pen and grease marker and decorated the black shapes.  Some final loops and crossed with a black pen and I was done!

This piece of painted watercolour paper met with the sharp edge of a paper trimmer and became the background for a greeting card. I love creating art out of everyday objects like toilet paper rolls. They are like snowflakes.  Each one is different and equally as beautiful.




Creativity In Balloons


I recently completed a series workshops at an elementary school in a nearby town.  The workshops were classified as electives which is a fancy way of saying that they were purely for fun.  My elective was titled “Be A Real Scientist” and it included science, art and lots of balloons.  There was a cooking elective across the hall from my room and an art session down the hall.  Many of the kids in the school rode buses to either bowling or roller-skating.

I had complete creative freedom for the two and a half hour workshops. Twenty-eight students, from the third to sixth grades, joined me for three fun and, at times, truly chaotic afternoons.

The first workshop revolved around roller coasters.  We used pipe insulation, paper, toilet paper rolls, tape and marbles. Lots of marbles.  In fact, marbles were everywhere!

In the second workshop, we used  household objects to create sound.  Popscicle sticks, elastic and balloons can make some pretty awesome noises!  Students created musical compositions within their groups and performed for the whole class.

The final workshop was all about air pressure.  We blew up windbags, combined balloons and CDs to create hovercrafts and folded paper airplanes.  Unsurprisingly, the craziest of all activities was balloon twisting.

I had never twisted a balloon prior to preparing for this workshop.  It is not for the faint-hearted but is very addictive!  A friend of mine is a professional balloon twister so I contacted her when I first thought of including this activity for the kids.  Although I did buy some balloons at the dollar store, the professional balloons that my friend so kindly sent me are` far superior.

Blowing up a twisting balloon is nearly impossible for me so pumps are a necessity.  I used online videos to learn how to twist a most basic dog and soon graduated to twisting a sword and a flower.

It was pure insanity twisting balloons with groups of seven or eight kids at a time.  We all had a great time and most of the kids left the workshop with a dog or sword or both.

Yesterday, I was cleaning my supply cupboard and found the extra balloons.  I grabbed a pump and within minutes had made an orange dog and a purple flower.  My random act of creativity was spontaneous and satisfying.

I was reminded that it is so simple to do something that makes me feel like a kid.  And when I feel like a kid, my heart smiles.