Let’s make a toilet paper roll train craft today! This simple preschool train craft uses uses recycled materials like toilet paper tubes and bottle caps to make a paper train. This DIY train is great for kids of all ages to make in the classroom or at home.

Toilet Paper Roll Train Craft for kids - shown is the finished toilet paper roll train with an engine and 3 cars and a caboose
Let’s make a train craft!

Train Craft for Kids

If you have a child who loves trains, this may be the absolutely perfect simple train craft.  Kids of all ages love the simplicity of this diy train craft for kids and everything you need to make it is probably already in your recycling bin!

Related: Make a cardboard train craft

This easy train craft is great for preschool, but don’t overlook it when you think of toilet paper roll crafts for older kids as well. Because this train craft can be made with as much detail (or as little detail) as you desire, this DIY train is great for different crafting situations with groups of kids or just one. We love making things from paper towel rolls, toilet paper rolls or craft rolls.

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How to Make a Toilet Paper Roll Train Craft

Toilet Paper Roll Train Craft - How to make a toilet paper roll train
Making a toilet paper roll train is easier than you might think!

Supplies Needed

Note: If you would rather cover the craft rolls with construction paper, then you would need a variety of construction paper colors – one for the train engine and each of the train cars and tape or glue to secure it in place.

Directions to Make a Train out of Toilet Paper Rolls

Toilet Paper Roll Train Craft Steps 1-4 to make a toilet paper roll train craft
Here are the simple steps to make a toilet paper roll train!

Step 1

Paint your cardboard tubes various bright colors. Cut C-shapes out of one of the tubes to create both the top of the little engine at the front of the train and caboose at the end of the train. Paint those craft rolls the same color to coordinate with the engine and caboose.

Also cut a C-shape out of the skinny cardboard tube and paint it the same color as the engine. The C-Shape tubes will arch nicely around the toilet paper roll.

Step 2

Once dry, hot glue the cardboard roll tops of the steam engines and caboose in place.

Tip: The box cars, freight car, passenger car and other various train cars on our train were all made from just a painted cardboard tube, but you could add details with card stock or additional recycled materials you have on hand.

Step 3

Also, hot glue four plastic lids on each cardboard tube (paper towel roll, toilet paper roll or craft roll) as the wheels of your easy train craft – train cars, engine car and caboose train car.

Step 4

Punch small holes into the four “corners” of each carboard tube. These are your attachment points for the yarn.

Step 5

  1. Cut the yarn to length.
  2. Weave the thread through one tube and another tube to attach two tubes together.
  3. Tie a knot.
  4. Continue stringing the train cars all together until all of the cars of the train are connected starting with the train engine at the front of the train and the caboose at the end of the train.
Toilet Paper Roll Train Craft completed and boy playing with the finished train craft
Choo! Choo!

Our Experience Making This Train Craft

I thought this might be a craft we made and displayed for a while, but I was wrong.  When we were done creating, my son made that train go choo-choo all throughout the house…for days!

My little guy sat in the kitchen, making it travel around him for a while. His legs, tables, and chairs around the house became tunnels having so much fun with the DIY train he helped make.

How to Make Train Tracks for Your Finished Train CRaft

In our house, train tracks are optional!

This train can roll along your floor without railroad track or you could create a temporary train track with painter’s tape so you don’t cause harm to your floors.

How Many Train Cars Do You Need to Make for the Train?

Some kids may make just a few train cars…and some kids may make a really long train full of different types of train cars.

One of the benefits of crafting with kids is it helps them explore their creativity and imagination while honing fine motor skills. They can customize their train cars and make whatever they can think up!

Yield: 1

Cardboard Tube Roll Train Craft


This toilet paper roll train craft for kids of all ages uses recycled materials you can find around the house like toilet paper rolls, paper towels and bottle caps to make the coolest DIY train toy.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Difficulty Medium
Estimated Cost free


  • 6 Toilet Paper Roll Tubes, 2-3 Paper Towel Rolls or 6 Craft Rolls (I prefer the white ones because they are easier to paint).
  • 1 Skinny Cardboard Tube (I used the center of a roll of foil)
  • 20 Lids (milk containers, Vitamin waters, Gatorade)
  • Yarn
  • Craft Paint


  • Foam Brushes
  • Hole Punch or Something to Make a Hole in the Cardboard Tube
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Scissors


  1. Paint the cardboard tubes various bright colors choosing what color you want for each train car, engine and caboose.
  2. The caboose needs an additional cut tube for the top cabin.
  3. The engine needs additional cardboard tubes for the cab and smoke stack (can be the smaller tubes).
  4. Cut a c-shape into the tube that will fit on top of the caboose or engine to allow it to fit better.
  5. Hot glue the parts onto the caboose and engine.
  6. Punch holes into the four corners of each of the train cars, the back of the engine and the front of the caboose.
  7. Thread yarn through the holes and tie creating a train.

More Train & Transportation Fun from Kids Activities Blog

This train is made from recycled materials, which makes it one of our inexpensive craft ideas that’s good for the planet! I love to make DIY toys that keep the kids busy long after the craft is through.

Toilet Paper Roll Train Craft for Kids featured in Big Book of Kids Activities  - paper towel roll train craft from the book
Our toilet paper roll train craft is part of The Big Book of Kids Activities!

The Big Book of Kids Activities

This toilet paper roll train craft is one of the featured kids crafts in our newest book, The Big Book of Kids Activities has 500 projects that are the bestest, funnest ever! Written for kids ages 3-12 it is the compilation of bestselling kids activities books perfect for parents, grandparents and babysitters looking for new ways to entertain kids. This toilet paper roll craft is one of over 30 classic crafts that use materials you have on hand that are featured in this book!

The Big Book of Kids Activities book cover which includes this cute train craft
This toilet paper rolls craft is one of several in our BIG BOOK of Kids Activities!

Oh! And grab The Big Book of Kids Activities printable play calendar for a year’s worth of playful fun.

Hope you enjoyed making a train craft out of toilet paper rolls! How did your toilet paper roll train craft turn out?

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  1. As a crafter, and hoarder, I cannot in good conscious toss an empty toilet paper roll. What a great train craft to make with my son! I think I’m going to try cutting the tops on some of the train cars where he has room to haul a few small toys.

  2. Like this train craft so much. I have found some good activities for my clasroom here at Kids Activities Blog. I really like the idea of adding virtual train rides as a companion to the train craft. Really excited to share with my students. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Hi Jodi!
    Great post! My son and I are always making recycled projects and I never thought to make a train. Most of our projects end up in the Jr. Picasso realm but I will surely give this one a try. Thanks for the inspiration!