Make Your Own Ruler

Make Your Own Ruler Activity

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Who says that all school supplies need to be store-bought? Teach your child about recycling and reusing with this simple math-based activity.

The preschool and kindergarten years are a time when your child will start (and continue) to discover beginning mathematical concepts such as counting and measuring. The Make Your Own Ruler activity encourages young learners to explore these concepts within the framework of a drawing based art activity. Canvas your house for reusable supplies, and get ready to measure the fun that your child will have creating his own ruler!

What You Need:

  • 1 piece of sturdy paper or cardboard (reused)
  • Scissors
  • Crayons or colored pencils in dark colors
  • School glue
  • Paint brush
  • Tape measure or other measuring device

What You Do:

  1. Search your home for a suitable piece of sturdy paper or cardboard to reuse. Boxes work very well. Examples include cereal boxes, packing boxes, cracker boxes, or shoe boxes. Make sure that the box is large enough to cut it to at least twelve inches in length. Additionally, look for materials that are sturdy but not too thick to cut by hand.
  2. Have your child help you to measure twelve inches across the cardboard. Make a mark with a pencil or crayon at this measurement.
  3. Cut the twelve inch length from the box into a ruler shape that is approximately two to three inches wide.
  4. Show your child a ruler or tape measure for reference. Ask him to line up the numbers with the cardboard cut out.
  5. Have your child draw lines for each inch mark with a thin crayon or colored pencil. These may be done in multiple colors. Make sure that the colors are dark enough to see.
  6. Ask your child to draw the numbers one through twelve at the correct lines (Optional: If you use the metric system use centimeters instead).
  7. If desired, seal the ruler by having your child paint a thin coating of school glue across the cardboard, covering the entire surface. Other glue base sealing products are available from craft stores. If you would like to choose such as product only use those clearly marked as non-toxic, non-flammable, water based, ACMI certified, and safe for young children to use. If you are unsure about the product that you have, do not use it and skip this step completely.
  8. Allow for drying time.
  9. Watch your child count and measure!

Add extra flair to this activity with paint and glitter on the opposite side. Have your child paint the non-numbered cardboard first, and then lightly sprinkle glitter over top!

Erica Loop has a MS in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education. She has many years of teaching experience working in early childhood education, and as an arts educator at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh.

Updated on Jun 27, 2013
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See more activities in: Kindergarten, Back to School
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