Kid Craft: Toilet Paper Tube Family Tree

If your kid has a family tree project for school (or maybe they just like to craft- it has to start somewhere!), here is an idea for something a little different:  A family tree made from toilet paper tubes.

What You Need:

  • 3 or more empty toilet paper tubes
  • print out of photos of family members sized to fit the tree
  • green construction paper
  • brown paint (optional)
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • black pen


Prepare the Parts
Each toilet paper tube represents one generation on the family tree.  The first tube is the children in your family, the next is the parents, the next is grandparents, and so on.

Each person in a generation gets one branch on the tree.  For example, if your family has three children, there will be three branches on the children’s tube; there will be two branches on the parents’ tube (unless you want to add step-parents); there will be four branches on the grandparents’ tube.  Feel free to make changes based on your own family structure.

To make a branch, using the scissors, carefully cut two slits about half-way down the side of a toilet paper tube.  The branch should be about the width of a little finger.  Fold the branch down so it sticks straight out from the tube.  Cut additional branches for each person in the generation.  You may want to write each person’s name on their own branch to be sure you have all the branches you need.

For each branch, cut out a leaf from the green construction paper.  They need to be long and wide enough to cover a branch completely.

On each leaf, write the name of one family member.  You may also want to add other information like when they were born or died, or where they lived.

Cut out each family member’s face in a circle with a “stem” on it so it looks like a cherry.  The stem will be used to attach the photo to a branch.  I used circles about 1 1/2 inches across.

Assemble the Trunk

Lay out all your tubes, leaves, and photos.

Gently insert the bottom of the parent tube into the top of the children tube.  If it does not slide in easily, cut additional slits in the tube so there is some give.  When you know it fits, take it back out, apply some glue to the base of the parent tube.  Put the parent tube back into the top of the children tube and push it down about half way.

Repeat this step, putting the bottom of the grandparent tube into the top of the parent tube.  Let the glue dry.

At this point, if you would like to paint the trunk of the tree brown, go for it.  You don’t need to paint the branches that will be covered by leaves.  Let the paint dry.

Attach Photos and Leaves

Arrange your photos in the order they will be attached to the branches:  a row of children, a row of parents, and a row of grandparents.

Apply glue to the underside of the photo stem of your first photo.

Press the photo stem on the correct branch (e.g. children on the children branches, and so on), with the top edge of the photo at the end of the branch.

Fold the photo down so it hangs in front of the branch.

Find the leaf with the name of the person in the photo.  Apply glue to the underside of the leaf.  Press the leaf onto the branch, covering up the branch and photo stem.

Repeat with all the branches and photos. 

Add extra leaves to the top for decoration.

Display your awesome new family tree!


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