Halloween Activities: Toilet Paper Roll Creatures

Did you know that toilet paper rolls in Hong Kong are white, not cardboard brown like they are in the U.S.?! This is a game changer for a crafter like me because the rolls are essentially perfectly primed canvases.

I had a half a dozen toilet paper rolls saved up that were itching for a second life as pieces of art. A quick Google search for “toilet paper roll Halloween crafts” returned hundreds of great ideas—using these as my starting point, I turned my paper roll crafts into lanterns so they are cute creatures during the day, but spooky monsters at night!

Toilet-Paper-Roll-Creatures

Materials

Additional materials depending on the creature

  • White masking tape (mummy)
  • Bubble wrap cut into approximately 4″ x 4″ (zombie)
  • Brass fasteners (zombie)
  • Pipe cleaners (cat)
  • Push pin/tack/needle—optional

For All Toilet Paper Roll Creatures

Draw the eyes, noses, and/or mouths on the toilet paper rolls with a pencil and cut the shapes out with an X-Acto knife. The basic premise is to create openings so that light from the candle can shine through. To add additional designs, puncture small holes on the roll with a push pin—they can be anywhere, but a safe approach would be to follow the shapes of the eyes, mouths, etc.

Color in each creature (where applicable). The Dumpling and I used both watercolor and craft paint, but I found that watercolor latched onto our rolls better and didn’t flake off as much once they dried.


Ghost

Because my paper roll was already white, I pretty much left the ghost as is. The little ones can opt to glue on cotton balls or strips of white tissue paper as additional decoration.


Jack-o-Lantern

Cutting this was the closest as I’ll get to carving a pumpkin this year. Mine is just as cute as any real jack-o-lantern, but without the mess!


Mummy

I don’t know what it is with toddlers and tape. The Dumpling could spend 30 minutes peeling, cutting, and sticking tape on anything!

Peel masking tape and stick it onto the toilet paper roll. There’s really no wrong way to go about this—it doesn’t matter which direction the tape goes on, how uniformed the tape is ripped, or how much tape is used—all these “imperfections” give the mummy character. The Dumping ended up putting on so much tape, she blinded our mummy so I had to cut out the eyes again!


Zombie

Puncture a small hole on each side of the head (roughly where the temples are located) to insert the brass fasteners. 

Paint the bubble wrap pink, roll it roughly into an ovoid with the bubbles facing outward, and insert it on top of the toilet paper roll where the zombie’s brain would be. Have extra bubble wrap on the side because the Dumpling and I couldn’t stop popping them! Warning: The craft paint flaked off everywhere once it dried. Unless you’re coloring with something that is more permanent, the brain is mostly for decorative purposes and less for play.


Cat

Fold the top halves of the toilet paper roll inward to create the ears. This should preferably be done prior to coloring the cat.

Cut two pieces of pipe cleaner and fold them in half. The length depends on how long you want the whiskers. Mine were approximately 2 inches before they were folded in halves.

Puncture a small hole on each cheek where the whiskers would be and insert the pipe cleaner with the “v” side going into the toilet paper roll. 


Owl

Fold the top halves of the toilet paper roll inward to create the ears. This step should preferable be done prior to painting the owl.


I found a color changing LED candle (from the Dumping’s old Mickey balloon we got at Disney) and tucked it inside one of the creatures. Doesn’t my toilet paper roll gang look like they’re having an awesome party?

TP Halloween Lantern - Pinterest.jpg

Teach the Way They Learn

“If a child cannot learn from the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” – Ignacio Estrada

Ever since the Dumpling was a newborn, I have dutifully incorporated reading as part of her nightly routine. On regular rotation were classics such as Goodnight Moon, Are You My Mother, The Runway Bunny, and nursery rhymes. Although her “meh” reaction was initially discouraging, online articles by child experts assured me that my efforts were not wasted. They seem to unanimously agree that reading to kids from an early age constitutes quality bonding time, promotes early literacy, develops their imagination, and brings an abundance of other benefits down the road.

As the Dumpling grew older, so did her interest in books…but not in the way I expected. While she was teething, they became her chewing toys. Then she went through a phase where she ripped off all the flaps from her flap books. Now she just loves flipping maniacally through the pages. On some evenings, she wouldn’t even sit through an entire story before wiggling away. I initially thought it was my choice of literature, but her behavior was the same whether we read her “favorite” story or a Toys“R”Us circular.

While the futility of our reading time didn’t escape me, it didn’t bother me either…until I actually tried teaching her something. It started when the Dumpling developed an interest in colors at around 19 months, so I picked out a few books to help her along. While nothing in our routine changed, my perception of it did. Instead of a leisurely past time, reading now had a purpose.

Information Overload

The reality was that the Dumpling’s primary interest laid in flipping, crumpling, or ripping pages; the content was secondary. Delving into my graphic design background, my guess was that there was just too much visually going on to hold her interest. As a result, she looked at everything—and therefore, nothing at once. For a toddler learning a new concept, a spread with seven to eight colors along with pictures, words, and numbers can be overwhelming. Even if an entire page was dedicated to one color, her attention was often fixated on familiar objects but not their attributes. For example, she would focus on the frog rather than the frog being green. This was understandable since her vocabulary up to this point consisted mostly of nouns and verbs; adjectives were new territory.

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Excerpts from the Dumpling’s books: there’s too much going on!

After a few attempts, I shifted away from books to experiment with a few activities designed to channel the Dumpling’s attention. I have always been a hands-on learner, so I built a color lesson around finger painting. I started by hiding all of the paint colors except for one and kept repeating that color over and over again. When the Dumpling started losing interest, I took the first color away and introduced a second. Again, I repeated the new color until I brought out the third and hid the second.

In our first painting session, she was exposed to a total of four colors: yellow, blue, red, and green. Once they were all introduced, I laid them out of reach and asked her to point to what she wanted as I named the chosen one aloud. Towards the end of the 30 minute activity (which as about 25 minutes longer than what I would have gotten out of reading), she was pretty much able to point correctly to a color when asked and verbally name blue and yellow.

In the next few weeks, we replicated this approach by playing with sets of identical objects that came in different colors, such as crayons, balls, pipe cleanerspom poms, and spoons. I was strict with having only one color of each available at the beginning. For example, if we were playing with pit balls, I had one red, one blue, one yellow, and one green out even though the set came with 100 balls. I didn’t want her to be distracted by the other 96 balls bouncing everywhere because our attention was on the colors, not the balls. Once I felt she developed a solid understanding of the initial four colors did I introduce additional ones.

Learn Through Play Activity Ideas

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  • Rolling balls: There’s something very calming about rolling balls down the stairs and watching them bounce. The Dumpling could spend 40 minutes doing this (she would have gone on longer, but I was tired picking them up), so it was an opportune time to talk about colors!

  • Fishing with pipe cleaners: I molded pipe cleaners into fishes, handed the Dumpling a magnet, and asked her to “fish” for different colors. (Tip: Find a magnet strong enough to pick up the pipe cleaner, but not so strong that it picks up multiple ones. Otherwise the game would be over very soon.)
  • Color sorting pom poms: After cleaning out plastic takeout sauce containers, I layered the bottom with colored construction paper and showed the Dumpling how to color sort. We started on easy mode with four colors and slowly added more.

YouTube also became an effective medium after the Dumpling started watching videos of an animated baby sliding into a ball pit. The character would do this repeatedly, except the balls were a different color each time.

Through simple and repetitive activities, the Dumpling learned to identify and say 10 colors before she turned two. As I was dressing her recently, she demanded to wear a blue outfit. When I was about to put a baby blue shirt over her, she stopped me and said “NO! Dark blue.” Apparently she can now differentiate between light and dark hues too.

I still read to my daughter on a regular basis in hopes that she would develop an interest in books one day. However, I also recognize that reading doesn’t always necessary equate to learning. While books are great resources, they’re only as useful as the amount of information a child can extract from of them. Just in case the Dumpling learns more effectively through other methods, I’m always ready to explore new activities as we learn together.

Mrs. jigg’s Lollipop Theater

The Dumpling got into nursery rhymes lately after watching The Mother Goose Club. To make storytelling a bit more interactive and personal, I decided to write my own and narrate it through a homemade cardboard stage. The plot is based on true events, although names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

(Visit my Instagram for videos.)

The Bunny Who Refused to Nap

There was once a little bunny who refused to nap.
He ran around the meadow and drove his mother mad.
He hopped with a frog.
He pranced with a deer.
He climbed with a squirrel.
He fished with a bear.

His poor mother chased him all around.
She couldn’t get a break
Because her little bunny wanted to stay awake.

The little bunny was finally tired by nighttime
And hopped straight into bed.
His mother opened a bottle of wine
And poured herself a glass…or three of red!

 


Behind the scenes:

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Building the stage: Cut open a side of a cardboard box and attach strips of self-adhesive velcro (side “A”)  to the back. Poke holes on the bottom.
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Gathering the talent: Print and cut out desired backgrounds and characters. (Freepik is an amazing resource.) Add strips of velcro (side “B”) to the back of the backdrops and cutouts. Wrap velcro (side “A”) around lollipop sticks and insert them to the bottom of the stage. Fasten the characters onto the sticks and let the show begin!

The Dumpling kept grabbing and putting the props in her mouth, so I ended up ditching the stage altogether and moved the characters around with my hand. She eventually succeeded in gouging the bunny’s eyes out and then kidnapping him altogether. I spent the next few minutes chasing her around the coffee table to rescue my blinded actor.

This play has indeed become a tragedy.