Cardboard Roll Octopus: A Chinese Counting Activity

Save your toilet paper and paper towel rolls for this easy cardboard roll octopus craft!

My daughter had a lot of fun making an octopus family with cardboard rolls!

This craft is a creative way to combine art, recycling, language, and counting!

Important vocabulary in Chinese

Do you know the different to say octopus in Chinese? There are 3 ways!

  1. 章鱼 (zhāngyú)
  2. 八带鱼 (bā dàiyú)
  3. 鱼 (bā zhuǎyú)

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What you need for the cardboard octopus craft

  1. Toilet paper rolls
  2. Paper towel rolls
  3. Hole reinforcement stickers
  4. Cotton balls (optional) or paintbrush
  5. Silver sharpie marker
  6. Paint

How to make the cardboard octopus craft

  1. Collect desired number of paper rolls for octopus family.  My daughter chose 2 parents and 2 kids to reflect our family!
  2. Write 章鱼, 八带鱼, &/or 鱼 on each paper roll
  3. Cut 8 legs on each paper roll.  Note: if you prefer, you can wait to cut the legs after step 3 when the paint has dried
  4. Paint each paper roll and let dry
  5. Paint the hole reinforcement stickers and let dry
  6. Ask the child to notice that the paint has covered the Chinese characters.  Rewrite each Chinese character on the painted rolls with silver Sharpie marker so that the characters stand out
  7. Write 一,二,三,四,五,六,七,八 (yī, èr, sān, sì, wǔ, liù, qī, bā / 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)
  8. For the short toilet paper rolls, affix one painted hole stickers on each leg
  9. For the long paper towel rolls, affix corresponding number of hole stickers on each leg (eg, will have 3 hole stickers).
  10. Note that the hole reinforcements may fall off – a great opportunity for repeating counting practice!

Did you make this cardboard roll octopus craft?

If you try this activity, please let us know in the comments below! What age(s) are your kid(s) and how did it go? We’d love to hear about your learning experience!

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