19 - 21 Months

Pop-up paper tunnels

Toddler playing with a DIY activity

By 18 months, many children are starting to use everyday objects to stand in for real-life: this is called “symbolic play.” In this activity, your child will push toy cars, trains, planes, and other small vehicles through DIY tunnels, creating a world of pretend play to get lost in. Small balls are also really fun to roll through, and you can even grab a mallet (or something like one) and play a toddler version of croquet.

Here’s how to make a landscape of pop-up paper tunnels:

  • Gather together some colorful paper, tape (washi, painter’s, or masking), small balls, and little toy vehicles. Thicker paper like card stock or construction paper works best, but anything you have on hand will do.
  • Fold tabs on each end of your pieces of paper, make arches with them, and tape the tabs down on a flat surface to make a tunnel—now it’s time to play!
  • This is a great opportunity for your child to help with the challenging task of taping—you rip off a piece of tape, hand it to them, and have them place it on the edge of the tab. Taping is tricky! It involves a lot of patience and bilateral coordination (working both sides of the body at once, in this case their hands) to manipulate tape.
  • Try connecting several tunnels into one long one, arranging the tunnels in circular patterns, and lining them up side by side like the start of a race.
  • Because the tunnels are fragile, this activity requires a certain degree of movement control. If your child keeps knocking over the tunnels, show how to go slowly and carefully to keep them upright.


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Posted in: 19 - 21 Months, 22 - 24 Months, Playtime and Activities, Playtime & Activities

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