Using spools as tools for play

I have no idea what these great big cardboard spools were originally used for but after collecting six of them from the local recycle center, I used them as tools for play in both my indoor and outdoor classroom…

Using spools as tools for play in preschool

If you are like me, once you find a fun item like these over-sized cardboard spools, you want to use them for anything and everything until they start to fall apart…

Using spools as tools for play in preschool

You may not have a set of large cardboard spools but what I am hoping you will get from this post is not that you need to run out and find some but that you will look at the things you do have or that you do come across and wonder “What else can this possibly be used for in my classroom?”…

Using spools as tools for play in preschool

As you can see from the photos I am sharing today, we used our spools in a variety of ways. The children rolled them, stacked them, and used them for play in our block center…

Using spools as tools for play in preschool

We also added them to our sand table for play…

Tools as Spools for Play by Teach Preschool

No matter where we added the cardboard spools, the children used them for unique and creative types of play…

Tools as Spools for Play by Teach Preschool

So my advice to anyone who is listening (or reading) is to think outside of the box when it comes to upcycling something like a set of large spools in the classroom. Upcycle your recycled collections for play, engineering, construction and all the other creative ways you can think of. These types of unique tools for play can be extremely inviting and engaging to young children and they are free!…

Tools as Spools for Play by Teach Preschool

Our cardboard spools did great until I left them out in the rain overnight and then they started to lose their shape so I took them back to the recycle center…

Tools as Spools for Play by Teach Preschool

But I’m keeping an eye out in hopes that whoever brought the first set of cardboard spools to the recycle center will soon be bringing more!

Use spools as tools for play by Teach Preschool!


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By |2014-06-26T06:00:17+00:00June 26th, 2014|

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. Heidi Butkus June 26, 2014 at 8:48 am - Reply

    I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: your students are SO LUCKY!!!!!

  2. Aswathi Das June 27, 2014 at 2:09 am - Reply

    Awesome ideas…Children will love it

  3. jessica June 27, 2014 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    Oh wow! These are SO cool! when I saw the Twitter post I was thinking thread spools, which we use in our classroom and they are of course, super cool but these are super-sized super cool! Thank you for sharing!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. June 27, 2014 at 10:50 pm - Reply

      Haha! I have a set of thread spools too but I haven’t tossed them out for the children to use yet 🙂

  4. Ana July 6, 2014 at 7:59 am - Reply

    These are so cool! I can’t turn down a good trash find myself 🙂

  5. Regina October 4, 2017 at 1:06 pm - Reply

    Dear Deborah, sincerely thank you for your great work, professionalism and sincerity. Kids with you feel very good. I am fascinated!
    Best regards from Lithuania.

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