Thursday, February 23, 2012

Toddler Activity #6: Paper Towel Roll Downhill Slide

Several weeks ago I asked my mother-in-law to save her empty paper towel rolls, so that I could gather approximately 6-10 more quickly than if gathering on my own.  Why, you may ask?

B has been very interested in cars, and I have been wanting to improve his independence and safety with ascending/descending our stairs.  Therefore, I decided to make a downhill slide out of paper towel rolls, so he could have fun sending his matchbox cars downhill all while working on his climbing gross motor skill and his stair safety.

Plus, this is a great rainy day activity. 

What you need:
  • Stairs (they don't have to be inside, you could use a few stairs you have outside.  However, the more stairs you have the faster and further the cars go, which little boys--and maybe little girls--seem to love.)
  • Empty paper towel rolls (I used 6 for 10 stairs)
  • Scissors
  • Clear Masking Tape
  • Toy that rolls (cars, trains, marbles, golf balls)
Sorry to state the obvious, but I have learned I have to.  DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CHILDREN UNATTENDED during this activity.  You know your child, so use common sense and do not give him/her small objects that he/she can not play with appropriately (i.e. put in mouth, throw, etc.).  I am fortunate that my almost 23 month old rarely puts objects in his mouth, but I realize some children are not safe with small objects until 3+.  You know what your child can and can not do, so don't complete this activity unless you know he/she is able to do so safely.

What to do:
  • Cut paper towel rolls in half
  • Tape each half together, so the uphill piece is always above the downhill piece.  Use a smooth tape like clear masking tape.
  • Tape the downhill slide to the top step if you have hardwood.  If you have carpet, you will have to come up with another alternative to keep the slide in place.
  • If you have hardwood, place a blanket at the bottom of the stairs, so the cars (or other objects) don't scratch the floor.  I did not do this at first, but my husband made sure to place one at the bottom when he got home :)

First, I demonstrated how to roll the cars down the slide.  Once he sent them all to the bottom, I verbally encouraged him to scoot down the stairs on his bottom 

(NOTE:  We have been working on this previously, so my son is safe to do this activity without assistance, but is always supervised.  Please, do not try this if your child has not been practicing descending stairs with you.  However, if your child is > 18 months old, walks well, and you are still carrying him/her down the stairs I would strongly encourage you to look up the developmental milestones for their age and begin allowing them to descend the stairs while holding your hand and a banister.)

At the bottom, I had him gather his cars and safely carry them back up the stairs while following him.  He has been able to ascend the stairs with ease for months; however, I still do not allow him to do it alone.  This particular day he had pockets in his shorts, but since that time my husband has given him a small bag with a zipper that he can easily use to carry the cars up the stairs safely.

I will admit B has not been ascending/descending the stairs every time.  We have 7 matchbox cars (I think), so he can send those down the slide fairly quickly.  I encourage him to climb up and down a few times and then I go and get them for him, or daddy is at the bottom and he tosses them back up the stairs to me.

I would definitely recommend this activity, but like so many other handmade activities it is not very sturdy.  We are still playing with our slide, but next time I will try to re-enforce the whole sliding surface (from the top of the stairs to the bottom) with one long piece of tape. The cars occasionally get caught on the small pieces of tape holding each half roll together and I have to smooth it down.

B is still asking to play with his cars on the slide every day!!

Tip #13:  Think about your child's gross motor skills (ie. walking, running, climbing, jumping, etc.).  How can you facilitate improvement with these activities?  Consider their current interests and try to incorporate them into their gross motor activities, as I have done with the Paper Towel Roll Slide.

Links to Toddler (18-24 Month) Activiites


Organizing Military Mommy said...

That sounds like so much fun. Unfortunately we don't use paper towels much. It would literally take years for us to gather that many rolls. You have any other suggestions? Perhaps i should try tissue paper rolls instead?

Our house has stairs, but their outside so this wouldn't be a rainy day activity, plus we live in washington which means its cold and rainy here A LOT!!! I hope I'll remember this for the summer time though because its a great idea!!!


Katie Perdue said...

This is such a fun idea, Amber! I'm going to have to remember to look back at all these posts you've done so I can use them for Landon when he is older.

To the previous comment- you could use wrapping paper rolls saved from Christmas, and probably wouldn't need but a couple to make a long slide.

Suz said...

This is funny because while I was reading this, I was thinking, "Hm, I bet my boyfriend would really like this." So not only is it an awesome idea for's good for men in their 20's as well!

Have a blessed day!

Sam said...

Thrifty momma, you could buy one stick of PVC at a home improvement store and cut it in half. Depending on how big your stairs are, you may need one coupling (connector piece that would only cost a couple bucks)

Anna Boney said...

Seriously? You are such a thoughtful, intentional mom. Bennett and baby c are two blesses peeps! You continue to amaze me!

Randiocoy said...

This is such a cute idea!! I will have to try this with the nephews! How fun!

Lindsey said...

Very cute. We have a set of stairs this will be perfect for!