homemade tabletop RPG minis

Tips and Tricks: Quick and easy tabletop game mini crafts for kids

Minis are awesome props to use when playing TTRPG’s, but there’s always some problems with bumping the board or potential for breaking them. Here are some alternative minis crafts and suggestions that can help you bring minis to the table and help engage your kids!

Why consider alternative or kid-focused minis?

You 100% can use your normal TTRPG minis for games with your kids as long as you are comfortable with it, but there can be a lot of reasons that you want your kids to have their own minis: 

  • You spent time painting your minis and want to protect them
  • You may not think some minis are appropriate for your kids (maybe they are scary)
  • Some minis may be too small or pointy for young children
  • Small minis can be shifted/bumped too easily when kids knock the game board
  • Minis aren’t available for the theme of your kid’s game
  • You want a low cost option
  • You want to allow your child to be part of the mini-making process

If any of these rings with you, I have some easy options below that you can use as alternatives for your games, all of which are either crafts using household items or that use low cost/standard kid toys as their basic components.

Also, in parallel to this article on DIY minis, I put up an article for where you can find ready-made minis!

Jump to: 

Crafting DIY tabletop game minis:

Make your own paper tube minis

To make this mini, you need:

  • A paper tube (like TP or cut down paper towel tube)
  • Crayons, makers, pens, or stickers
  • Scissors

For this one, you draw a band around the bottom of the tube and then draw a rough outline of the figure that you want (or you can use a sticker/tape a printed picture onto it).  I let my child color the figure, and then I cut it out along the lines.

DIY paper tube tabletop game minis

This was nice because it cost nothing, the base was large enough to where it was stable (and if your kids really move the board, the base is large enough to add tape), and it only took a couple minutes to make.  My kid also loved that he had made his own mini and has been playing with it outside of the game too, so it ended up being something special for him.

Minis that stick to the board

To make a sticky mini, you will need:

  • A sticky note
  • Crayons, makers, pens, or stickers

To make a “sticky mini”, fold a sticky note in half, as shown, and tear down the center of the sticky portion only. Then, fold the paper so the sticky portion sits on the board, as shown. From here, you can add any decoration that you want (drawings, stickers, tape on a printed picture)!

DIY sticky note game minis that stick to the board

I came up with this one because my kid kept knocking the board back and forth, and I needed something that would stay in place.  This was a great quick fix, and the minis kept their stickiness through the whole game.  It also only took about 2 minutes to make, and 100% solved the problem with pieces being jostled around.

Make your own gaming mini tokens

For token minis, you need:

  • Cardboard (I used scrap from a cereal box)
  • Scissors
  • Crayons, makers, pens, or stickers

For this one, cut out a small disc from the cardboard, and then decorate!  That’s it!  It was super easy, and it lets you make any mini that you want (important for when they want a weird theme) in less than a minute.  If my kid loses it or it gets messy, I’m not going to be heartbroken because this one is just so simple and quick to make each time that we use it.

DIY cardboard token game pieces

Make pipe cleaner figures

To make this option, you will need: 

  • A couple pipe cleaners

To make a pipe cleaner figure, twist one pipe cleaner into a base that is wide enough to be stable for your child’s needs.  Then, use 1-2 more pipe cleaners to create a figure on the top.  This can be a person (like the one shown) or you can try for other shapes depending on the game. 

DIY pipe cleaner figure game piece

I liked this one because it added a sensory experience for my kid.  He’s recently been a little obsessed with pipe cleaner crafts because he likes to run his fingers over the fibers, so this gave him something fun and soft to help use as a centering tool during the game.  This was also another one that only took a minute or two, and I even made a few more mid-game when he wanted more characters involved.

Create wooden block figures

To make a wooden block figure, you will need: 

  • A wooden kid’s block that you are OK with coloring
  • Crayons, makers, pens, or stickers

For this one, just decorate the block how you would like for the game!  And that’s it!

DIY game piece from wooden block

This one was nice because (though you can’t see), my kid had already scribbled the other side of the toy, so it was just reusing it anyway.  It also was heavy enough to stay in place on the board despite minor bumps and jostling, and, when we weren’t using the game board, it gave my kid something to hold onto and fidget with.

Check out other minis crafts and alternatives:

Other craft and art supplies suggestions for making your own minis

I had so many ideas for this article and just could not do them all and keep it a reasonable length.  So, here are some other ideas that I though could be used to make minis. I hope they can give some inspiration even though they don’t have pictures/steps: 

  • Origami
  • Papercraft
  • Playdoh/modeling clay
  • Duct tape/masking tape
  • Pompoms
  • Cut out egg carton cups
  • Mini (2oz) paper cups + pipecleaners

And so many others!

Use Duplo figures

I also wanted to mention Duplo figures.  I’ve used these quite a bit, and they are great for sticking to the board as we play.  They aren’t free like the DIY crafts, but these types of blocks are pretty common, so I am guessing a lot of people already have them.  They’re designed to be child safe (please follow recommended ages on the box), and it also encouraged my kid to play his own games with them outside of our TTRPG time.

using duplo blocks as tabletop game pieces

Try finding dollar store figurines to use as game pieces

For more budget minis, I will also pick some up from the dollar store – these work great without costing much.  It is a bit random at times what is available (sometimes you get firemen like the picture below, and sometimes it is plastic bugs), but that can also be part of the fun of coming up with a game or getting an idea for a story to match what you find.  

use dollar store action figures as tabletop game minis

It’s also a nice treat for my kid to get a new toy… after the game, I will give him the figures as his prize, and he’ll often continue the story or make a new one on his own.  With the firemen shown here, after our game, he ended up making up a story about how they were superheroes stopping a bad guy from dropping a candy wrapper in the park instead of throwing it in the garbage (based loosely on events seen the previous day).

I hope this article gives you some ideas, and, if you are looking for minis to buy, I do have that other “where to find” article posted here!

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