How to make a traffic light for schoolchildren

Updated April 17, 2017

Road safety is an important skill for children to learn. The sooner they understand the importance of red, amber and green lights, the sooner they'll be able to exercise greater awareness and safety measures when crossing the road. Schoolchildren often respond well when lessons are turned into active, hands-on games. Making a traffic light is a fun rainy-day craft or classroom activity that has the added bonus of teaching an important lesson and contributing to safety.

Cover the bottom of an empty tissue box with black construction paper. You can also cover the sides of the box with the black construction paper, if you wish. It's best to leave the top (with the slot for tissue) uncovered, to make the later stages easier. To guarantee that the black paper fits perfectly, you can lay the sheet against the box and trace lightly around the box before cutting the paper. Glue the paper carefully onto the tissue box.

Trace and cut out three circles, lined up vertically, in an even row on the bottom of the tissue box (the area covered in black paper). If you would like to make more precise circles, use the bottom of a glass or a jar to trace them on the box before you cut. Once the circles are traced, carefully cut each one out. This step may require using a craft knife rather than scissors, and may be difficult or dangerous for children.

Tape three different colours of tissue paper inside the tissue box. You may need to cut the tissue paper to fit. Reach inside the tissue box -- the top should still have an opening -- and tape one piece of tissue paper over each of the three holes, so that from the outside you see only one colour through each hole. Be sure to tape the colours in the right order: red on top, yellow in the middle and green on the bottom.

Use the torch to illuminate each circle. Once the traffic light is complete, children can insert a small torch into the tissue box and point at each circle, lighting the colours up one by one. You can also use this yourself while the children watch, to instruct them with fun, interactive traffic-safety games.


If you wish to make a base for the traffic light, you can glue an empty paper-towel roll to the bottom of the traffic light and insert the roll into a second tissue box. This will allow the traffic light to stand up by itself as you play traffic-safety games.


Always be sure to use age-appropriate, child-safe materials, such as safety scissors and non-toxic glue. Supervise young children. If a craft knife is required, carry out this step yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • Tissue boxes
  • Construction paper
  • Coloured tissue paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Glue
  • Tape
  • Torch
  • Empty paper-towel roll (optional)
  • Second tissue box (optional)
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About the Author

Sally Murphy began writing professionally in 2000. She has worked as a writing instructor and written for various organizations and publications on topics ranging from history to hairstyles to television shows. Murphy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and also holds a Master of Fine Arts in writing.