How to do string roll painting

An EYFS arts and crafts activity

Community Playthings | October 2022

When did you last stand on level 2 room 12 at the Tate modern and think, “my two-year-olds could have done that”. Those abstract impressionist pieces so nicely framed which sell for millions at auction may still be within budget for your nursery. Get the two-year-olds involved!

String rolling painting is a fun and easy activity for kids of all ages. All you need is a cardboard roll, some paint, paper, and a string.

Experimenting with different colours of paint facilitates creativity and exploration. Add some glitter, or other mediums to encourage self-expression.

Introduce geometry concepts. New vocabulary: parallel and perpendicular lines, vertical and horizontal.

Instructions with pictures


To do string-roll-painting you need

  • Paint
  • Tray
  • Paper
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • String
  • Cardboard tubes (e.g. carpet tubes, Pringles cans, toilet rolls)

Materials needed for string roll painting laid out on a table

Step one:

Roll the string around the cardboard tube.

hand winding thick string around cardboard tube

Step two:

Squirt some paint onto the tray. Two to three colours for best results.

hand squirting poster paint onto plastic tray

Step three:

Roll your wrapped cardboard tube around in the paint.

child rolling carboard tube wound with string on plastic tray covered in paint

Step four:

Apply the paint onto the paper by rolling your painty tube around. Continue experimenting with different colours, and roll the tube in different directions.

child rolling paint on paper using cardboard tube wound with string

child using pringles can with string to roll paint on paper

Step five:

If you have a room full of “artists”, increase the value of your finished masterpieces by creating a framed art collage.

Completed string roll paintings mounted on a wood-panelled wall

There’s a seasonal masterpiece for your wall. Parents will think they stumbled into an exhibition of Gerhard Richter’s Cage paintings.

Projects & Activities
2–3 Years, 3–5 Years