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DIY Cardboard Fishing Pole for Kids

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Ladybug has been on an outdoorsy kick lately. She and her dad camped out in a tent in the backyard, she likes “exploring” and looking for bugs, and she's been pretending to fish in the back yard using twigs she finds on the ground. I love it, it's adorable to see my 3 year old who rarely stands still for more than a second, sitting quietly on a large rock in our back yard…just…holdin' a stick…fishin'.

I'd seen toy fishing rod sets online but figured we have plenty of bought toys, I could probably whip one up for her. I've been playing around a lot with paper punches and noticed that the largest punch I have is the same diameter as cardboard tubes and it all kind of fell in place. So here is how to make an easy DIY Cardboard Fishing Pole (or rod, which one is it?) that really reels!

Any magnet that you can tie a string to will work just fine. And if you don't have a button, you could probably substitute something else. I just added the button because children are strong…and cardboard isn't!


1 Paper Towel Tube
1 Toilet Paper Tube
Ribbon/Twine/Yard (cut to about 3 to 3.5 times the length of the paper towel tube)
Magnetic Toys
A 1 3/4 inch Paper Punch
A Small Button
Paint, if desired

1. Prep the cardboard: Pinch the paper towel tube in half towards one end and jam it insert into the paper punch about an inch from the end, making sure the punch is centered and press down hard to punch the holes. On the toilet paper tube, use a pencil or other small object to punch one hole in the center. Paint your tubes if desired.

2. Assemble: Once the paint dries, poke one end of the yarn through the small hole in the toilet paper tube and tie the button on the end that will remain inside the toilet paper tube. Thread the other end of the yarn through one of the punched holes in the paper towel tube and let it come out the far end. Insert the toilet paper tube into the punched holes. (If it is hard to insert it, pinch it the same way you pinched it to punch the holes.) Tie your magnet to the end dangling from the paper towel tube.

3. Play! Reel and unreel the line by turning the toilet paper tube. Enjoy!

The paint and craft button used in this project were provided to me for free from www.craftprojectideas.com.

Please do click the Like button at the top right of the page to follow along on Facebook! I'd love to see you again!

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  1. What a cool idea. We do have a store bought one that came with a game, but your homemade rocks. I will be profiling this post in the next round up – thanks for sharing with Afterschool!

  2. The other day my older boys (3 and 5) made a fishing pole out of a stick and dental floss to “fish” in a puddle. They would LOVE this! Thanks so much for linking up the tutorial at After School!

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