The mystery tubes

20 April 2011 · 5 comments

in Outdoor Play, Play Resources

Every playworker and pre-school practitioner has at some point stumbled across an interesting resource that has a multitude of uses and which children find irresistible.

One of my long term favourites were a bargain investment from Tesco’s. Reduced from £1 to £0.12 about 4 years ago, I bought ten of these flexible animal tubes. I thought they looked interesting but assumed they would wear out quickly.

I could not have been more wrong. They have taken hours of use without the anticipated quick wear-out rate normally associated with so many toys. If you look through my pre-school photos, there’s almost always one lingering around in the background, looking quietly inviting.

I’ve had some cases where the children and staff haven’t worked out that they are flexible and just play with them all squished up and hard.

Or they are elephant’s noses. Or that your voice becomes big and booming when you shout down them.

The children quickly learn that they can be looked through, and that it’s fun finding another person’s eye.

However pull both ends and a really loud stretchy, ratchety sound is emitted. This usually causes great excitement and the fun begins.

The girl in the photo below showed me how she used them for carrying water. Until then, I did not realise what handy water carriers they are as they are two-handedly grippy.

The tubes hold their shape even when tipping out water so make great pouring vessels.

My favourite time is when big, messy water play happens outside. The tubes ALWAYS get well used. They can be used instead of guttering or to loosely attach parts of guttering. In fact they are a wonderful open-ended “loose part“.

Over the years, they’ve never worn out. But, like pens and pencils, they have invisible legs and go for a walkabout. So I’ve lost all but three. Whilst discussing the tubes with a nursery teacher this week, she mentioned she couldn’t find any. So I went online and had a right good look. To my delight and surprise Amazon UK stock them. Sadly the price is not bargain at £2.74 per tube. But the play value of this resource is so high that the “oh-what-the-heck-do-it-anyway” mentality kicked in and I succumbed to the 1-click purchase and ordered a few more.

I’d be interested to know if anyone else has a favourite tool, toy or resource that children use outdoors all the time. Let’s share and see!


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

jenny April 21, 2011 at 08:27

Oh these are wonderful Juliet. I guess our kids use all the old standards – milk crates; tubing, guttering are the ones that they use most.

Reply April 26, 2011 at 07:33

They look so cool. My girls love the tubes that hubby uses to tidy up his computer and electronics cables.

At a friends recently they discovered a huge piece of plumbing pipe and had great fun using it for a tug-o-war.


Tricia April 26, 2011 at 15:36

I love those!! I so wish I had some – I think my boys would have a great time exploring them! I’ll have to keep my eyes open for some here. Thanks for sharing!

Tricia at Mom is the Only Girl


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