My kids really enjoy printmaking so I wanted to share this super-simple activity using cardboard tubes found around the home. Paper towel rolls or toilet rolls work great for this craft.

Printmaking With Cardboard Tubes -kid printing

Printmaking with cardboard tubes is a really fun craft for a rainy day, and also makes a great homeschooling activity. There’s lots of design thinking that goes into it. And kids of all ages will find enjoyment with printmaking, it’s just a lot of fun!

Print making can get a wee bit messy. So before you call the kids over to get messy set down some newspaper or a protector sheet. I used paper plates to put the paint onto, but you can use anything that is flat. A flat surface is important so it is easier to press their tubes onto.

I will show you a few simple designs you can make with the cut up cardboard tubes. But don’t let that limit your imagination. Have a go and create a whole scene, and see what other creations you can come up with. You’ll find 100s of ideas on Pinterest and Instagram too.

Printmaking Craft With Cardboard Tubes

What you need
Cardboard Tube
Paints (we used Resene test pots in a range of colours)
Paper to paint on to
Felt tip markers
Pin or a pencil to use for printing with.

What to do

1. Cut your cardboard tubes into about 1 – 2cm strips.

2. Once you have them cut you can make a number of simple shapes just by pinching parts of the tube. Here’s an example of hearts, teardrops, ovals and leaf shapes.

Printmaking With Cardboard Tubes - shapes 1

3. Pour some paint onto your paper plate. If the blobs of paint are a little thick, just flatten it out with a plastic knife.

Printmaking With Cardboard Tubes - Resene paint

4. Now grab some paper and I will tell you how to make a few different images.

Crab printmaking

To make the Crab use your circle and heart shape cardboard tube cutouts, plus a pen or felt.

First dip your circle into the orange paint, and press it onto the page. Next dip your heart into orange paint, and press it down twice on an angle above your circle. The hearts will make the nippers. Use your pen to attach the nippers, draw in some legs and some eyes.

Printmaking With Cardboard Tubes -crab

Fish printmaking

To make the fish you will need your heart shape again, and a teardrop shape cardboard tube cutout, a pen and a pin or the end of a pencil to make small dot prints for the scales.

Press your teadrop shape into a fun tropical colour, like deep purple, and press it onto the paper. Then use your heart shape to make the tail. Draw in a line for the head and then use the pinhead to make scale dots in contrasting colours, on the rest of the fish body. Add a some cute fish lips with your pen and a few print bubbles with the end of the pin.

Butterfly printmaking

To make a butterfly you will need your tear drop shape and the leaf shaped tube cutout, and a pen.

First, use your leaf shape to make the body in purple, and the tear drops pressed down 4 times in bright red, to make the wings. Then use your pen to draw in the feelers and some detail on the body.
Printmaking With Cardboard Tubes - Butterfly

Tulip printmaking

To make a tulip, grab the leaf shaped tube cutout, and a paintbrush or a green felt pen.

First, using a tulip purple, press down the middle leaf of the tulip right in the centre, and then press down the two side ones on a slight angle, to make 3 leaf shapes. Lastly paint in the stem or draw it in with a pen. You may want to add tufts of grass, or a small green leaf on the stem.
Printmaking With Cardboard Tubes - Butterfly

Sunflower printmaking

To make the sunflower grab your circle shape and a leaf shaped tube cutout.

Start by printing your circle in the top-middle of your page in bright orange. Then use your leaf shape and either orange or bright red, to print the petals all the way around the circle. Paint or draw in a stem. Grab your leaf tube and print two leaves attached to the stem.


I hope this has given you a bunch of ideas to inspire your imagination. Now all that’s left is for your kids to bring their imagination, and create their own masterpiece. If your enjoyed print making checkout this post on stamp making, and for hundreds more craft ideas, check out our creative arts and crafts section.

Printmaking With Cardboard Tubes - finished piece

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Alayna lives in the Horowhenua with her husband and two beautiful children, where she runs She's a qualified primary school teacher with a passion for visual arts. Alayna's work has featured in print and online publications, you can check out her work on her website.

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