Building and playing with our free tube blocks and where you can find them too

I have had lots of folks asking about our wonderful new addition to our block center that we call “tube blocks.”  We have been building and playing with our free tube blocks for a few months now and yes, I said free! Let me share all about them and where you can find them too…

Tube Blocks by Teach Preschool

The tube blocks are made out of a very strong, solid cardboard.  They come in about three different heights (lengths) ranging from about 4 inches tall to 8 inches tall…

Tube Blocks by Teach Preschool

The tube blocks are very strong but not too heavy for play and we are continuously exploring different ways we can play, explore, and create with our tubes…

Tube Blocks by Teach Preschool

Inside each tube are these little white plastic rings (see below) that can easily be popped in and out of the ends of our tubes.  We have been removing the rings to also use for play (which I will share some other time) but the important thing to note is that with each tube, also comes two plastic rings…

Tube Blocks by Teach Preschool

We have used our tube blocks to build snowman towers.  I created a snowman head for each child and the children stacked the tubes on top of one another then added the snowman head to the top to make their own snowman towers…

Tube Blocks and Snowman Towers by Teach Preschool

As the children built their snowman towers, we counted the number of tubes they used and compared which snowman towers were the tallest or shortest…

Tube Blocks and Snowman Towers by Teach Preschool

The children are beginning to integrate the tube blocks with other toys in our classroom in different ways and I think they will only continue to get more creative with their use of the tube blocks as we progress through our school year…

Tube Blocks by Teach Preschool

Where to find tube blocks

Tube blocks are actually cartridges that hold film paper used by stores that print digital photos.  Stores like CVS, Walgreens and others use them in their digital photo development machines. When the stores are done using them – they throw them away! Yikes!   I stopped by a lot of different stores before I was able to find a photo person that would save them for me.  You have to find a store that prints LOTS of digital photos and then get the person in charge of the photo department to agree to save and donate the leftover tubes to your school or program . And, by the way, some of the stores are getting newer digital photo processing machines that will not use these tubes for their paper so stock up while you can!

My favorite Walgreen’s lady has been saving these tubes for me for several months now and I stop by regularly to pick them up so the saved tubes don’t take up space and get in their way…

Tube Blocks by Teach Preschool

I will share more about how we are using these tubes in future posts for sure so if you happen to have a photo department near you, stop by and see if they have these tubes and will save them for you too!
Available on Amazon

Thank You

A special thank you to the teachers in Southern Indiana that shared their idea and use of the tube blocks with me.  It took me awhile to find them where I live but I finally did! We love them!!

By |2013-01-15T23:14:47+00:00January 15th, 2013|

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. Barb January 16, 2013 at 7:24 am - Reply

    Headed out today to try to get my hands on some. What a great tip! THANKS

  2. Diane January 16, 2013 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Thank you for another great tip! I am going to ask my favorite photo places around me. Great way to recycle too.

  3. School Sparks Renee January 16, 2013 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    Wow!! What a great find. I’m planning on stopping by my CVS and talking to the people there. Hopefully I’ll snag some of these. They look like fun! Renee

  4. Jen Hutchison January 19, 2013 at 11:12 am - Reply

    I love to think outside of the “block” in my centers…this idea is great to reinforce opposites. Exploring how the tubes are different than the blocks will make for a great learning experience!

  5. Nicole November 27, 2017 at 12:56 am - Reply

    4 years after this was posted and I am wondering if these are still being used in machines. We don’t have a CVS or Walgreens in our area…so I am also wondering if someone out there has found something similar to these to use that are just as sturdy. What a great find! Love this idea!

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