Cardboard Tube Diversity Dolls

INSIDE: Cardboard Tube People is a fun and easy craft for kids to create diverse people.This is a great way to make diverse dolls for your child to play with and to start the conversations about race with young children.

Talking About Race with Children

I am not an expert on race. All the opinions I express here are my own and based on the research I have done about talking to kids about race. And the research all shows that not talking to your kids about race does more harm than good. Children as young as 3 already notice race and can pick up on the subtle cues adults put forth when interacting with people of a different race.

Just remember the best time to start talking about race with your child is today. You don’t need to have the perfect language. You don’t need to say the absolute perfect thing to them. Don’t let a teachable moment on a walk or at a store pass you by because you felt you didn’t have the perfect statement for the situation. Just like with other aspects of parenting we are all bound to get it wrong once in a while.

The Best Sensory Play Kits for Kids

Play is at the core of learning during the early years and it can take many forms. One of the most important of these is sensory play because it engages all of a child’s senses (taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing) and has a enoumous positive impact on brain development.

Our Sensory Play Kits are a fun and easy way to keep your child engaged while at the same time capitalizing on the benefits of sensory play to nurture their mind!

Shop our ready made sensory play kits here.

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How to Make Cardboard Tube Diversity Dolls

  1. Grab cardboard tubes. I used white ones for this activity but if you have brown ones it will work as well. Mix your paints to create 3 of 4 different shades of brown. To mix different skin tones, I used brown, peach, white, and copper in various amount. Play around with it. If you are making people in your community mention that your child.
  2. Once you have the colours, start to paint the heads of your people. Only paint the top front portion of your cardboard tube. Set it aside to dry.
  3. Grab some scrap cloth. I used old baby clothes that were too worn out to giveaway. I cut them up to use as cloth to make clothes for the cardboard tube dolls.
  4. Use tacky glue or a low heat glue gun to attached the clothes to the cardboard tube by wrapping it around the doll. Get creative. Make belts, scarves, hats. add necklaces of flower in their hair. I used party necklace for a necklace and gem stones and buttons for details.
  5. For the hair, you can use construction paper or yarn. Attache it to the back of the cardboard tube head using a glue gun or tacky glue. You can wrap the yarn around the top portion of the tube or cut it into shortly pieces and glue the to the head. For the construction paper. Cut the paper into small sections and use a pair of scissor to curl the hair.
  6. For the face, we used a combination of buttons and sharpie markers to make the faces.

What to talk about

The conversation to have with your little one during this activity is that people come in many different skin tones and have many different hair textures but that is just one or two aspects of an individual. I like to always add other personal information about the dolls that aren’t necessarily related to race or culture. Challenge them to think about other important personal aspects. 

You want to avoid children thinking that white skin is “normal” and thus separate from other skin tones. We all have a shade and during your conversations be sure to talk about the different shades of all skin tones not just brown or black skin tones.


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  • Cardboard Tubes
  • Tempera paint in brown, white, copper and peach
  • Yarn
  • Scrap of cloth or old clothes
  • Construction Paper
  • Scissors
  • Quick Dry Tacky Glue or low heat glue gun
  • Buttons
  • Black Sharpie

Age Suitability

This activity is good for kids 3 years and up . My kids are 3, 3, and 6 year old.

Looking for more Anti-Racism Activities? Check out these fun ideas:

The Best Book of Sensory Bins

Did you know I wrote a book of sensory bins? Click here for more information Exciting Sensory Bin for Curious Kids. Or grab your copy at Amazon.

Rating: 5 out of 5.


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