DIY Toy: Tin Can Stilts

I love Amy Sedaris. She is one of those unique personalities that have made a career of just being her quirky, funny self. So I laughed out loud when I was flipping through a copy of her tongue in cheek crafting book Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People and saw my next planned DIY toy project right there on page 77! I had planned on doing this project after seeing it in The Best of Making Things but it’s a pretty universally known toy so of course it will be included in a lot of places, including a humorous book like Simple Times

Of all the DIY toys we have made thus far, Tin Can Stilts is the one my kids have been most excited about. My three-year-old Clara particularly loves them and she’s good! Her balance is actually pretty amazing for a wee one. I’m a big believer in making things pretty, the more enticing a product looks the more interest it will generate. So I definitely spent some time fancying up this simple toy.

Tin Can Stilts


  • Clean Tin Cans- preferably the 28 oz size, remove any sharp edges
  • Colorful paper (optional)
  • Mod Podge & Paintbrush (optional)
  • Decorative Tape (optional)
  • Cardboard tube from wire hanger, cut into (2) 3″ sections
  • Twine or Heavy Duty String
  • Electrical Tape
  • Hammer
  • Nail


  • Step One If you plan to decorate the cans start by mod podging some fun paper around the sides of the cans. Let dry.
  • Step Two Cut your twine. The length of the twine really depends on the heights of the children who will use the stilts. My kids are pretty petite so I cut the twine into 3′ lengths.
  • Step Three Thread the cardboard tubes onto the twine and knot the end loosely
  • Step Four Add some decorative tape to the cardboard tube handles.

  • Step Four Make holes in the sides of the cans. Using your hammer and a large nail make a hole on either side of the tin cans close to the top.
  • Step Five Thread the string through the holes.
  • Step Six Trim the twine. Have your child stand on one of the cans and trim the twine so that the handles will be placed roughly at the height of their outstretched arm. Children have to pull up on the stilts as they walk so the closer the handles are to their outstretched arm the better.
  • Step Seven Knot the twine securely. You may want to hide the knot under the handle, although ours kept slipping out from underneath.
  • Step Eight Add some electrical tape along the bottom edge of the can for some slip resistance. We added this step after some testing so the electrical tape is not shown here!

You’re done!

After testing these out I have a few recommendations:

  • Have your child wear shoes! It’s much easier on the feet although my son refused to wear them.
  • Practice in an open space. There is a tendency for children to slip at first so you want to make sure they will not fall onto or into anything dangerous.
  • They work best on flat surfaces. We tried the grass thinking it would be the best cushioning but it was pretty tough to balance on although it may work for an experienced stilt walker! A short carpeted area is safest; we had the best results on the Persian rug in our living room.


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  1. kitblu says

    I remember using apple juice cans. We used the punched holes for the twine and did not have cushy handles. This was 50 years ago!

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