Tube Ball

This activity is from The Outside Play and Learning Book, by Karen Miller. It’s simple to make and will keep your toddler coming back over and over again. The cause-and-effect is fascinating to them, and it’s reminiscent of “peek-a- boo” because of the appear/disappear quality of the game.

You can do this inside or outside.


  • Large paper tube (like from gift wrap) or a PVC pipe
  • Balls that will fit through the tube (tennis balls, large jacks balls, ping pong balls, etc.) Small cars, marbles, etc. can work too.
  • String
  • A box or basket (optional)
  • A fence (ideally), or somewhere to adhere or tie the tube. A banister, or even a wall will work if you are creative.
  • Poster tube with ends removed
  • Poster tube with ends removed

You can (hopefully) see from this image that the tube has been affixed to the wall with duct tape. This tube is a poster tube with both ends removed. There is a basket below the bottom end of the tube. When the ball rolls down the tube it ends up in the basket if the basket is positioned correctly and the ball doesn’t bounce out. The basket isn’t necessary but can add an element of fun for your toddler if the ball bounces out.

You could instead tie the tube to a outside fence or downstairs banister. This picture shows the tube pretty high up on the wall; make sure your toddler can reach to the top of the open tube so they can place the ball inside!