I love repurposing household objects into open-ended play items. You may have noticed. One of my very favorite baby toys is… the paper roll! Whether the paper towel or toilet paper roll, I honestly cannot tell you how often I repurpose these with my infant and toddler. They can become garages for matchbox cars, bracelets, stencils, drum mallets, shakers, or, in this case, a microphone! Though the options for how to use this in play are truly limitless, I want to give you a few ideas for using paper rolls as instruments.

On the corresponding podcast episode, Play With Words,” we focus specifically on the creation of a paper roll microphone! Microphones are a wonderful way to encourage vocal play or imitation, and are great for calling attention to vocal turn-taking.

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Materials to create your DIY paper roll microphone:

  • Toilet paper roll OR Paper towel roll
  • Optional: Aluminum foil, washi tape, stickers, markers, double-sided tape other decorating materials

Instructions to create your DIY paper roll microphone:

  1. Once toilet paper has all been used, save your empty roll and offer as an item to be decorated (or decorate yourself!)
  2. To make it look more “micophone-y” while retaining the actual amplification effect, attach (I used double sided tape) aluminum foil on one end of the roll.
    • Encouraging your little one to feel the reverberation effect against his lips and mouth as he vocalizes can be a nice (and immediate!) sensory reward!
    • To replicate the actual look of a microphone, you may  place a ball of aluminum foil inside one end of the roll.
  3. You can model using the microphone yourself (heightening the silliness factor to increase the allure!) and offer it to your little one to encourage him to:
    • Imitate a specific sound or word
    • Take a conversational turn
    • Finish the line in a familiar song
    • Engage in pretend play


  • Around the 12-18 month age range, first words typically start to appear. Typically, older babies are playing a lot with their voices, and making “talking” (whether it is taking turns babbling, singing, or verbalizing) into a play activity can be a nice way to encourage vocal turn-taking.

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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