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June 21, 2010 — Today’s Way: One of the best things you can do with your kids is to allow and encourage creative time and space for them.  Kids love to get their craft on…imagining new purposes for ordinary objects at an early age exercises their fine young minds and helps develop an aptitude for critical thinking. And you know what else?  It’s fun!

One of my favorite craft items when I was a kid was the good ol’ ordinary toilet paper tube (along with its brother, the paper towel tube).  We used to paint them, bedazzle them, punch patterned holes in them, make them into kaleidoscopes, build castle turrets (on top of cardboard boxes) with them, tape them together to make binoculars, telescopes and periscopes (complete with mirrors), we poured beans into them and sealed the ends to make rattles for our imaginary rock band…you name it, we made it.

Start collecting your tubes now so that, on the next rainy day your children (or nieces or nephews, or grandchildren) are trapped inside, you’ll have a ready stash to repurpose.  And get the kids involved, enlist their help to collect the tubes and make a special box for them (a box, by the way, that could also be reused and decorated just for this purpose).  Believe me, when they grow up, they won’t remember their score on the video game they always played, but they will remember time well spent with you, creating fun new things out of ordinary objects that would otherwise have gone straight to a landfill or recycle bin.

To get you started, there are several websites with lots and lots of ideas for projects using toilet paper tubes, and here are just a few:

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