Teach with Trash: Tissue Box Science

One thing readers most request is inexpensive (or free) teaching materials. Here is the first “Teach with Trash” idea, and I plan to have more to come. This is a science activity using empty tissue boxes. You can either save empty ones as they are used up at school, or ask parents to send them in. You only need six empty tissue boxes.

Teach with Trash: Tissue Box Science

The tissue boxes will be used to make “feely” boxes or guessing boxes:

  • Print out the picture cards and the question mark cards (file below).
  • Attach the question mark cards to the tissue boxes.
  • Put one item in each box.
  • Have the child spread out the picture cards so they can see all of the cards.
  • Have the child reach into a box, feel an item, and guess what is inside.
  • They will match the picture card to that box and repeat the same with each box.
  • When they are done, they will pull the objects out of the boxes to see if their guesses were correct.

In the picture shown, I used the set of nature picture cards with real nature objects:

  • flower (use real or artificial)
  • pinecone
  • seashell
  • leaf (use real or artificial)
  • rock
  • stick

Teach with Trash: Tissue Box Science

In the printable cards below, I have also included a set of school supply objects that you can put in the boxes. Download them by clicking the button below. You can come up with other items to put in the boxes using objects around your classroom or home. Make picture cards by taking a photo of the objects you are using.

Have other ideas for the tissue box feely boxes? Please share them in the comments below!

Download: Feely Box Cards


  1. says

    You can wrap tissue boxes in plain paper and it can become a large dice for students to use! Dot stickers for number, construction paper for colors, etc.

  2. Lee says

    This is a fabulous idea!!

    Have you ever figured out a good idea for the wooden crates oranges come in? I’ve got about seven I’m trying to determine a use for.

    • Gina says

      Sorting the unit blocks in the block center would make great use of orange crates, using them to build with, with the blocks, is fun too. I had some the children used as fruit/veg bins in the store/dramatic play area. We also used them to carry art supplies outside.

  3. Chris says

    Fun idea! Great use for tissue boxes, and super simple!.

    I made feely boxes from those school supply kit boxes (with the handles). I spray painted them, decorated them with handprints and question marks, and cut two holes in one side. I glued in each hole the sleeve from an old sweatshirt (so no one can peek into the box). We play this during our five senses unit. A teacher sits on one side of the table, opens the box, and slips an object inside (toy, eating utensil, sock, crayon, etc…we have a bag full of stuff to choose from). The child puts their hands inside, finds the object, tells a few things about it based on how it feels, and guesses. (Some excited kids immediately guess and pull the object out through the sleeve, but we try to get them to talk through it first). Thy love this game and eventually learn to play with one child hiding the object inside and one guessing.

  4. Paige says

    Wonderful idea….I will start collecting tissue boxes ASAP! You could even make “seasonal” boxes with plastic bats, spiders, pumpkins, etc. for Oct and stars, package bows, candy canes, etc. for Dec…..

  5. Rhonda says

    I appreciate the freebies so much. This is a wonderful idea. I will get on it tomorrow and get parents to donate tissue boxes. It gives them the opportunity to be involved in their child’s learning

  6. Sarah says

    I’m saving tissue boxes to make some color dice out of with each side of the box being a different color. There are a few different possibilities that I’ve thought of for the colors. 1) Have several different colored objects on the floor. When the die is rolled, they have to find x number of items of that color, 2) Roll the die and name something of that color, 3) find something in the classroom/outside that’s the same color. You could use a color dice to review or as a fun activity as you learn the colors. I’m creating the boxes as we learn about the colors.

  7. Carline Cole says

    You can cut away one side of the top and lay it on its side to use as a garage or a house. You or the child can paint it. The tops of several boxes can be cut off and then stack them to use as mail boxes for sorting mail. The boxes can be glued together or held in place with brads. The dice has already been mentioned.

  8. Asma says

    wow!what a great attempt.i am working as a academic coordinator at care foundation “ngo” we really need such low budget ideas.So,its amazing so helpful:)

  9. Katherine says

    With tissue boxes, they can be stuffed with old newspapers and wrapped with colorful contact paper. They now have some new blocks to use for building. Can expand to oatmeal boxes, cereal boxes, etc… Gives the children some new shapes and sizes to build with!

  10. RUCHIKA says

    ideas for using trash are wonderful. We the kindergarten teachers are always looking such things for making teaching aids. Another way of using these boxes are props for story telling. By pasting cutouts of characters on the boxes, kids can narrate wonderful stories.

  11. Lynne Wardell says

    You can use them to assist with creative writing/story telling…

    1. Get several (6-8) empty tissue boxes
    2. Past pictures on all sides, perhaps having a theme for each box (i.e. People, Food, Buildings, Animals etc)
    3. Put several of the tissue boxes in a random order on a desk and have the children make up a story using the pictures. This can be done orally or for a writing assignment.
    4. You can get creative…have several children tell a different section of the story (like one child per box) or hand out the boxes in the class and have them raise their hand to select a picture on their box and add to the story.

    Have fun!!!!!

  12. Nancy Jernigan says

    Thanks for sharing your marvelous ideas. I can’t get enough of your creativity and the suggestions from fellow teachers. I’m presently teaching pre-k 3 days a week after a successful career teaching k-8 P.E. fore 31 years. I love teachjng!

  13. Lee says

    Wow! Such great ideas everyone. I am just starting out as an early childhood teaching (just finishing my degree). It is so great to get such good ideas. Thank you Karen for your website and everyone else who contributes :-)

  14. Frances Lewis says

    I appreciate all your tips & ideas. We made tissue box vases. We covered each box w/ masking tape (to hide the print). The children painted 1 side (using a brush or roller paints), then painted another side w/ starch or diluted white glue & covered it w/ colored tissue paper. When these dried they painted their handprints on top. On the third side we put a photo of the child, & on the fourth side we put a poem. They made tissue paper flowers to go in their vase. This is a lot
    of work but they enjoyed it!

  15. Terry says

    The tissue “feely” boxes could hold cotton balls soaked in extracts or essential oils (then put inside spice bottles with the perforated cap hot-glued onto the bottle–more recycling, and no oily fingers or cotton balls eaten!) for a five senses unit, or I have a mini Christmas cookies unit for December. Scents chosen would need an easily recognizable picture to put on the cards; peppermint, lemon, orange, almond come to mind. Identifying scents is always a challenge for my preschoolers, but I think it’s important, fun, and worth doing!

  16. says

    I really like this idea, Karen. Lots of ways to adapt and change. I’m thinking of adding a page to my blog for ideas just like this. I’ll definitely link here if I do that.

  17. Nora Montemayor says

    I have been following your posts and I would like you to know that I am very thankful for the ideas that you have shared with us. I am a retired Preschool teacher and I am now doing teacher-training to Kindergarten public school teachers here the the Philippines. These teachers are very short of resources to create interesting Learning Centers. Your ideas using inexpensive and even materials that are easily available in the poorest of communities are very helpful to us. More power to you. I continue to follow your posts and pass on the link to the teachers.

  18. Patricia Bowen says

    This is my second year teaching Pre-kindergarten and I am enjoying all the ideas that you present. You are very talented. Thanks. Another idea for the tissue box can be fruits maybe plastic so that it will last – apples, pears, bananas, grapes, oranges

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