Help Children Share Feelings: Toilet Roll Dolls

Help Children Share Feelings: Toilet Roll Dolls

Getting young children to express feelings is challenging. When a parent is away from a child due to work, deployment, divorce, or for any reason, it can upset a child. Just because kids don’t talk about how they feel, does not mean they aren’t experiencing a range of emotions. Most likely, they don’t have the skill, or ability, to communicate. This helpful play therapy technique is a simple way to help children share feelings.

These toilet paper dolls may look a bit complicated to make, but I assure you they are a piece of cake. There is no end to the creative and play possibilities.

  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Paint
  • Markers/textas
  • Strong craft glue
  • Sheet of thick card (i.e. side from a cardboard box)
  • 2 different sizes of cardboard tube (i.e. toilet paper roll and a wrapper paper roll)

If you can’t find a smaller size tube to fits inside your toilet rolls you can just make some by rolling and taping thick flat card. With the larger size rolls (the toilet rolls) I made a few  TP dolls–an astronaut, wet weather character, and a little girl. You could make anything though, even animals.


First cut a little window at about the height and size of your characters face.
Decorate however you, or your children want. I painted our rolls and then used markers to add the details after it was dry. You could use cut out pictures from magazines or make clothes from fabric/felt – anything at all really!

Once your dolls are made you can make the face inserts.
Cut your smaller size rolls to be the same height as your toilet rolls. Next cut circles from your cardboard sheet and glue the tubes securely in the center. Cut four or more small circles of paper and draw a simple face showing a different emotion on each one. I made a happy, sad, surprised and angry face on each of ours. Another idea would be to take photos of your child pulling faces and use those instead of drawing them.

Glue the faces around the inner tube making sure they are at the same level as the face window cut into the toilet roll characters. Now slide your toilet roll dolls over the top of the emotion inserts and you are ready to play! All your child has to do is spin the cardboard disc at the base to change the expression on the dolls face.

The ability to change the expressions on the dolls faces is a way to really help children share feelings and a lot of discussion when a parent and child are separated.