Skip to main content

Cylinder scribblers

What you need

  • Something cylindrical – a cardboard tube from a toilet paper or kitchen roll is ideal
  • Tape
  • Markers or crayons
  • Large paper


Young children tend to use writing tools to make marks, holding them in a cylindrical whole-handed grasp. Creating an exciting cylindrical tool for them to explore will encourage them to make different marks on the paper. They will find it fascinating to see how their movements are creating beautiful, multi-coloured lines and shapes on the paper!

The experience

Prepare your tool ahead of time. You will need an empty cardboard tube and a selection of crayons or markers. Tape your crayons/markers around the outside of the tube. Ensure there is some tube above the top of the pens to hold on to and that they are securely stuck (masking tape is ideal). 

You can then set up an area for your baby or young child to explore. This could be a large piece of paper on the floor (ideal for babies to lie on their fronts as they mark-make or to encourage toddlers to squat or kneel) or you could secure paper to a low table your child can stand at. 

Provide them with the cylinder writing tool and allow them to freely explore and observe the marks they make. You may like to model yourself how to use it and create different lines and shapes. 

Admire your child’s marks with them – what colours did they use? Can they make a straight line from the top to the bottom? Children closer to 2 and above may also be able to manage some anti-clockwise circles. Both of these shapes are important pre-writing skills, to get your child ready for when they learn to form letters later down the line. 

Have fun and enjoy!