Candy cane sensory tubes for preschool

We are exploring the Five Senses of Christmas.  Christmas time (or the winter holidays in general) are filled with sensory experiences and it is a wonderful time to explore the five senses. I will share several new posts this next week about our Five Senses of Christmas unit…

Today, I want to share these fun little candy cane tubes I made for the kids to explore their sense of sight…

These are those candy filled plastic candy cane shaped tubes that you can buy just about in any store you walk into.  It is a good excuse to buy yourself some candy but be sure to save the tubes…

I filled the tubes with a variety of materials….

  • Baby oil and a small amount of colored water
  • Tiny, colorful holiday trinkets and beads
  • Water, glitter, and small amount of Glycerine
I hot glued the red candy cane cap back onto the top (use a cool glue gun or another good water-proof glue). A few of my tubes slightly leaked so I added tape around the top to help stop control the problem…
I set the candy cane sensory tubes out for play both at the table and on the light table.  My students pretty much walked around with them all day long.  Before they played with them, we talked about how to take care of them.  My class did great with them and even the leaky one’s held up to all the play…
Through out the day, I saw the children hanging the candy canes on door knobs, on the back of our shelves, on hooks. They carried them hooked around their arms and loved arranging them in and out of my two clear flower vases…
I will keep the candy cane tubes out for as long as they last. So far, so good!  I might even go ahead and let the children make one to take home. I didn’t yet because I want to perfect how to glue the top on so there is no chance of leaking…
For added candy cane tube play…
  • Add the empty tubes to your water table
  • Fill the empty tubes with colored sand (red and white) for a beautiful ornament to take home
  • Make the tubes into an I-Spy game
  • Fill the tubes with bells, beans, and other items that make different sounds….
Things to note:
The type of candy cane tube you buy makes a difference as to whether or not you can put liquid in the tubes.   Cheaper made tubes will definitely leak.   These are just as fun to play with in the water table or to fill with other types of objects like beads as an alternative to liquid material.
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By |2017-03-28T22:28:33+00:00December 1st, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Melissa @ The Chocolate Muffin Tree December 1, 2011 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    Awesome idea! You have the most ingenious ideas!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 1, 2011 at 11:49 pm - Reply

      Thank you Melissa – and so do you!!

  2. Lorie December 1, 2011 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    I love this! They look like so much fun!!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 12:08 am - Reply

      They are lots of fun and keep in mind, even dry items inside the tubes are fun to the children. They love them!

  3. What a fabulous idea. My cherubs would love this. You have my head spinning with all the possibilities and me wanting to get my hands on some of those candy cane containers.

    I am making up a Christmas themed treasure box for Taleea and a few of these in there would be fantastic. Thanks for sharing yet another of your inspiring ideas.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 8:04 am - Reply

      A treasure box is such a cute idea Elise:)

  4. maryanne @ mama smiles December 2, 2011 at 6:30 am - Reply

    What a fun idea!!! My kids would love this – who wouldn’t?!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 8:03 am - Reply

      I was hoping your would like it Maryanne:)

  5. Scott December 2, 2011 at 7:23 am - Reply

    My reaction? That Deborah is a genuis! These are so cool. Great idea, Deborah!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 8:02 am - Reply

      Haha – I love your reaction Scott:)

  6. kristin @preschool daze December 2, 2011 at 7:42 am - Reply


    this is brilliant.


    i think i might have found my gift for the kiddos this year.


    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 8:02 am - Reply

      Haha – they would make awesome and fun gifts!

  7. Amber December 2, 2011 at 7:49 am - Reply

    So many times I read your post and think “why on earth didn’t I think of that?!” 🙂 You do a lovely job at “recycling”! So my question with these candy canes is how did you get such a large quanitity to use? Love you candy cane sensory tubes!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 8:06 am - Reply

      Well, when I was at the store for other things, I realized that these tubes were perfect for some classroom fun so I bought 10 of them. I just couldn’t wait to get home and give it a go. But perhaps you could get parents to donate one or even save them for next year!

  8. jackie December 2, 2011 at 8:01 am - Reply

    What a great idea, Deborah! They’re so pretty.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 10:23 am - Reply

      Thank you Jackie:)

  9. Leeanne A December 2, 2011 at 8:48 am - Reply

    Love Love Love these!!! Now off to find out if the store has any more!!!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 10:23 am - Reply

      Keeping my fingers crossed that you can find them Leeanne!!!

  10. Yvonne December 2, 2011 at 11:52 am - Reply

    Great idea! I can’t wait to try it.

    I fill a tube bird feeder with pony beads and tiny trinkets.
    It’s a great “I Spy” toy.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm - Reply

      Oooh, I bet they love that too!

  11. jen December 2, 2011 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    what a creative idea and so simple to make…I can’t wait to make them.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 1:49 pm - Reply

      I hope you have fun!

  12. This is such a brilliant idea! I’ve been doing this with water bottles forever, and it never occurred to me to use these candy cane tubes.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      I never thought of it before either but with all the water bottles that I read about and try myself – it all occurred to me that this could be used for one too!

  13. Erica December 2, 2011 at 6:55 pm - Reply

    You know what’s funny….I just bought a few of these earlier this week because when I looked at them I just KNEW there had to be something I could do with them. 😉

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      Haha – looks like we think a lot alike Erica!!

  14. Little Wonders' Days December 2, 2011 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    You are so creative! These are great.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 9:06 pm - Reply

      Thank you:)

  15. amber December 2, 2011 at 8:54 pm - Reply

    i was wondering what was in your second to last pic … of the candy cane that has red,yellow and green, layer ? and thanks this is a great idea!!! 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 9:06 pm - Reply

      Hi Amber,
      The clear color is baby oil. The yellow is water with yellow food color. The red is a little red Christmas ornament that is reflecting in the light which makes it look like there are three colors of liquid but there are actually only two liquids and two little shiny red and green ornaments.

  16. ayn colsh December 2, 2011 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    These are so cool! I’m definitely saving those candy tubes now! I can’t wait to see more of the 5 Senses of Christmas. What a ingenious way to explore the holidays with young children!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 11:59 pm - Reply

      I love this unit Ayn – it is new for me this year but I will definitely do it again!

  17. The Iowa Farmer's Wife December 2, 2011 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    These are SO great! What a great idea for the holiday season. I might have to go out and find one with candy (and eat it) so I can do this for my daughter. 🙂 And what a great way to recycle these if you receive it as a gift. Thanks for sharing! Looks like hours of fun!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 11:58 pm - Reply

      I ended up pouring the candy in a jar at my husband’s office:)

  18. Rachelle | TinkerLab December 2, 2011 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    I love this, Deborah! You’re always coming up with the most creative ideas. I can totally picture these hanging all over your class.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 2, 2011 at 11:59 pm - Reply

      The kids were so funny to watch!

  19. artsy_momma December 3, 2011 at 1:33 am - Reply

    Love all your ideas for this! Such a creative idea. Really love the red & white sand idea 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 3, 2011 at 2:07 am - Reply

      Yes, – I am itching to try that too:) LOL!

  20. MaNutt December 3, 2011 at 8:27 am - Reply

    Super Idea. You can use a waterproof glue – I like E6000, it is clear, flexible and waterproof so it shouldn’t leak. Available at craft and probably hardware stores.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 3, 2011 at 10:33 am - Reply

      Perfect – I will have to check that out!

  21. Lorie December 3, 2011 at 10:26 am - Reply

    I keep thinking about what a great idea this is. I pinned it, stumbled it, and put it on my facebook page! 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 3, 2011 at 10:32 am - Reply

      Haha – thanks for the pin, stumble, and FB share:) !!!!

  22. Sandy R. December 3, 2011 at 11:37 am - Reply

    What a great idea! I have been using water bottles, but now you’ve got me thinking about what else I can use…hmmm

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 3, 2011 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      I know what you mean! It makes you look at the potential of every container you find:)

  23. Ludicrous Mama December 4, 2011 at 1:43 am - Reply

    Maybe caulk? You can get window caulk in a dispenser ready to go for not too much at home improvement stores. Designed to be water-tight and durable.
    Fantastic idea! I want to try this now! Luckily my BIL is a contractor, so I’m sure he’ll have some caulk I can try…

  24. crittersandcrayons December 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm - Reply

    OMG. These are brilliant. Brill-Yunt.

    Seriously! Please link them up to my homemade Christmas linky! 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 4, 2011 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      Ok – I will link up now:)

  25. crittersandcrayons December 5, 2011 at 1:27 am - Reply

    Thank you for linking up! I also shared it on my blog FB Fan page! Love it!

  26. Nicole December 6, 2011 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    I love this!! I have made 3 already, for my preschool class!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 6, 2011 at 6:15 pm - Reply

      I love it!! We are still playing with ours!!

  27. Carolynne Schmidt December 8, 2011 at 9:53 am - Reply

    I loved your idea and I was inspired by it. I bought the candy canes, but the first problem I had was removing the paper. There was added paper spiraled around the tube. I tried soaking them in water and also Goo Gone. Paper never came off completely. Then I tried filling one with water and the water leaked out of the bottom of the tube. I am disappointed that I did not get the same results as you.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 8, 2011 at 10:50 pm - Reply

      I noticed that there are different types of tubes. I will blog about this again to provide some information I have learned. But essentially, the place you buy the tube makes a difference. I bought mine at Walmart and they were wonderful. The Dollar Store candy canes were cheaper but the paper came off great. So it has been all over the map. Who would have thought so many issues can come up from one simple idea!!

  28. Tabitha December 11, 2011 at 2:20 am - Reply

    These are amazing!!! Pretty oh pretty please would you link this post at Your Green Classroom, a new blog about recycling in the classroom? Or allow me to link it? Just click the following words to link – Your Green Classroom Thank you!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 11, 2011 at 8:10 am - Reply

      Hi Tabitha – you never need my permission to add a post from here to a linky:) It is always a privilege to be added!!

  29. Tabitha December 11, 2011 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    Awesome! And thanks sooo much for going ahead and linking the post! It’s so cute! I will share on my FB wall tomorrow (too many people are in bed right now!) I am also grabbing your button to put on the green blog. You look like you have a LOT of great content I can add, so thanks a ton!!

    FlapJack Educational Resources

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. December 12, 2011 at 12:16 am - Reply

      Thank you Tabitha:) I haven’t had a chance to run through your entire blog but I will certainly be back to visit!!

  30. […] Make your own Candy Cane Sensory Tubes to explore from Teach Preschool […]

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