This week on our podcast episode, “Musical Patterns,” we talked about some of the ways that engaging in musical events play into cognitive skills like pattern recognition. Rhythm is one of the elements that creates those patterns, and varying the sounds that keep the beat can make for a fuller experience.

Enter, the “Paper Roll & Tissue Paper Drum” – two commonly found household objects that, when put together or used as surfaces to keep tempo, create two distinctive sounds.

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 Materials to create your DIY paper roll and tissue drum:

  • Toilet paper roll OR paper towel roll
  • Small piece of tissue paper (any color
  • Optional: washi tapestickers, markers, double-sided tape other decorating materials

Instructions to create your DIY paper roll and tissue drum:

  1. Once toilet paper has all been used, save your empty roll and offer as an item to be decorated (or decorate yourself!)
  2. Stick tissue paper into one end of the roll, OR use toilet roll as a mallet for the tissue paper. This leaves you with several options for creating sound:
    • Tap the roll against your hand
    • Tap the tissue papered end of the roll against your hand
    • Tap the roll against the tissue
  3. Play with the different sounds these two materials can make together or on different surfaces (your hand, a table, a rug, your leg, etc.), and/or use them to mark the rhythm of a song or nursery rhyme.


  • Around the age of 6 months, or when a baby starts to babble (putting a consonant and vowel sound together), we often see rhythmic banging/tapping of the arms as well.
  • When presented with open-ended toys like these, it can be fun to watch how a small child chooses to use it in different ways! Infants, toddlers, as well as big kids and adults can enjoy making rhythms and using tools to create sounds!

This post contains affiliate links. All activities described by Strength In Words assume close and continuous supervision of the child by an adult.

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