Candy cane sensory tubes for preschool

We are exploring the Five Senses of Christmas.  Christmas time (or the winter holidays in general) are filled with sensory experiences and it is a wonderful time to explore the five senses. I will share several new posts this next week about our Five Senses of Christmas unit…

Today, I want to share these fun little candy cane tubes I made for the kids to explore their sense of sight…

These are those candy filled plastic candy cane shaped tubes that you can buy just about in any store you walk into.  It is a good excuse to buy yourself some candy but be sure to save the tubes…

I filled the tubes with a variety of materials….

  • Baby oil and a small amount of colored water
  • Tiny, colorful holiday trinkets and beads
  • Water, glitter, and small amount of Glycerine
I hot glued the red candy cane cap back onto the top (use a cool glue gun or another good water-proof glue). A few of my tubes slightly leaked so I added tape around the top to help stop control the problem…
I set the candy cane sensory tubes out for play both at the table and on the light table.  My students pretty much walked around with them all day long.  Before they played with them, we talked about how to take care of them.  My class did great with them and even the leaky one’s held up to all the play…
Through out the day, I saw the children hanging the candy canes on door knobs, on the back of our shelves, on hooks. They carried them hooked around their arms and loved arranging them in and out of my two clear flower vases…
I will keep the candy cane tubes out for as long as they last. So far, so good!  I might even go ahead and let the children make one to take home. I didn’t yet because I want to perfect how to glue the top on so there is no chance of leaking…
For added candy cane tube play…
  • Add the empty tubes to your water table
  • Fill the empty tubes with colored sand (red and white) for a beautiful ornament to take home
  • Make the tubes into an I-Spy game
  • Fill the tubes with bells, beans, and other items that make different sounds….
Things to note:
The type of candy cane tube you buy makes a difference as to whether or not you can put liquid in the tubes.   Cheaper made tubes will definitely leak.   These are just as fun to play with in the water table or to fill with other types of objects like beads as an alternative to liquid material.
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  1. Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

    They are lots of fun and keep in mind, even dry items inside the tubes are fun to the children. They love them!

  2. says

    What a fabulous idea. My cherubs would love this. You have my head spinning with all the possibilities and me wanting to get my hands on some of those candy cane containers.

    I am making up a Christmas themed treasure box for Taleea and a few of these in there would be fantastic. Thanks for sharing yet another of your inspiring ideas.

  3. says

    So many times I read your post and think “why on earth didn’t I think of that?!” :-) You do a lovely job at “recycling”! So my question with these candy canes is how did you get such a large quanitity to use? Love you candy cane sensory tubes!

  4. Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

    Well, when I was at the store for other things, I realized that these tubes were perfect for some classroom fun so I bought 10 of them. I just couldn’t wait to get home and give it a go. But perhaps you could get parents to donate one or even save them for next year!

  5. says

    Great idea! I can’t wait to try it.

    I fill a tube bird feeder with pony beads and tiny trinkets.
    It’s a great “I Spy” toy.

  6. Erica says

    You know what’s funny….I just bought a few of these earlier this week because when I looked at them I just KNEW there had to be something I could do with them. ;)

  7. amber says

    i was wondering what was in your second to last pic … of the candy cane that has red,yellow and green, layer ? and thanks this is a great idea!!! :)

  8. Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

    Hi Amber,
    The clear color is baby oil. The yellow is water with yellow food color. The red is a little red Christmas ornament that is reflecting in the light which makes it look like there are three colors of liquid but there are actually only two liquids and two little shiny red and green ornaments.

  9. Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

    I never thought of it before either but with all the water bottles that I read about and try myself – it all occurred to me that this could be used for one too!

  10. says

    These are so cool! I’m definitely saving those candy tubes now! I can’t wait to see more of the 5 Senses of Christmas. What a ingenious way to explore the holidays with young children!

  11. says

    These are SO great! What a great idea for the holiday season. I might have to go out and find one with candy (and eat it) so I can do this for my daughter. :) And what a great way to recycle these if you receive it as a gift. Thanks for sharing! Looks like hours of fun!

  12. Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

    I love this unit Ayn – it is new for me this year but I will definitely do it again!

  13. MaNutt says

    Super Idea. You can use a waterproof glue – I like E6000, it is clear, flexible and waterproof so it shouldn’t leak. Available at craft and probably hardware stores.

  14. Sandy R. says

    What a great idea! I have been using water bottles, but now you’ve got me thinking about what else I can use…hmmm

  15. Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

    I know what you mean! It makes you look at the potential of every container you find:)

  16. says

    Maybe caulk? You can get window caulk in a dispenser ready to go for not too much at home improvement stores. Designed to be water-tight and durable.
    Fantastic idea! I want to try this now! Luckily my BIL is a contractor, so I’m sure he’ll have some caulk I can try…

  17. Carolynne Schmidt says

    I loved your idea and I was inspired by it. I bought the candy canes, but the first problem I had was removing the paper. There was added paper spiraled around the tube. I tried soaking them in water and also Goo Gone. Paper never came off completely. Then I tried filling one with water and the water leaked out of the bottom of the tube. I am disappointed that I did not get the same results as you.

  18. Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

    I noticed that there are different types of tubes. I will blog about this again to provide some information I have learned. But essentially, the place you buy the tube makes a difference. I bought mine at Walmart and they were wonderful. The Dollar Store candy canes were cheaper but the paper came off great. So it has been all over the map. Who would have thought so many issues can come up from one simple idea!!

  19. says

    These are amazing!!! Pretty oh pretty please would you link this post at Your Green Classroom, a new blog about recycling in the classroom? Or allow me to link it? Just click the following words to link – Your Green Classroom Thank you!

  20. Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

    Hi Tabitha – you never need my permission to add a post from here to a linky:) It is always a privilege to be added!!

  21. says

    Awesome! And thanks sooo much for going ahead and linking the post! It’s so cute! I will share on my FB wall tomorrow (too many people are in bed right now!) I am also grabbing your button to put on the green blog. You look like you have a LOT of great content I can add, so thanks a ton!!

    FlapJack Educational Resources

  22. Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

    Thank you Tabitha:) I haven’t had a chance to run through your entire blog but I will certainly be back to visit!!