Making our own measuring tapes

I’ve yet to meet a child who doesn’t love measuring tapes.  You know, those cool retractable kind that you pull out and then let go and it snaps back into place?  Well, we made our own measuring tapes in preschool this week…

Making our own measuring tapes by Teach Preschool

To make these fun take-home measuring tapes we used long sentence strips, paper tubes, markers, and heavy duty straws…

Making our own measuring tapes by Teach Preschool

The children began this project by creating their “ruler” or tape that would go inside our paper tube.  They did this by drawing lines at various increments on their sentence strip (any long strip of paper will do).  We encouraged the children that were ready to also try write numbers next to their lines.  We celebrated all attempts at writing numbers, for this was really one of the first formal ways we invited the children to write out all their numbers…

Making our own measuring tapes by Teach Preschool

After the children had their “rulers” drawn on their long strip of paper, we attached it to the straw with a piece of tape.  We taped it at the end of our numbers, so that when we pulled it out of our tape measure, it would start at number one.  If you don’t have sturdy straws, you could just as easily use a pencil or wooden dowel rod.  While Deborah and I were helping individual children with their tape, we suggested that they may want to decorate the outside of their tape measures ..

Making our own measuring tapes by Teach Preschool

Once we had all of the children’s rulers taped to their straws, the rulers were ready to be rolled up…

Making our own measuring tapes by Teach Preschool

Deborah and I showed the children two ways to roll up their long strips of paper.  Deborah showed them how to roll their paper on the table.  I showed the children how to roll it the paper in their hands.  The children could then choose whichever method worked best for them…

Making our own measuring tapes by Teach Preschool

Once the paper rulers were all rolled up, the children were ready to put them in their paper tubes…

Making our own measuring tapes by Teach Preschool

Prior to the start of our activity, I cut a long slot in each of the paper tubes so that we could feed our tape measure through it.  Now the children could pull their tape measure out and begin measuring with it…

Making our own measuring tapes by Teach Preschool

Once the children had pulled out their tape measure all the way, the challenge was trying to reel it back in.  Deborah and I showed the children how to twist and turn the straw to get the tape to retract – talk about fine motor work!  The retracting part didn’t exactly work easily but the children were up for the challenge …

Making our own measuring tape by Teach Preschool

The process of writing, counting, and creating combined produced some beautiful hand-made tape measures for furthering our exploration of measuring length.

Making our own tape measure by Teach Preschool

Available on Amazon

 Links to grow on:

Cool preschool math activity by Carrots are Orange

Preschool math lesson: Lego measurement by No Time for Flashcards 

Measuring play dough inchworms by Teach Preschool


By |2013-02-08T06:00:54+00:00February 8th, 2013|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Denise February 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    I love this idea! I was wondering where you found your straws?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. February 8, 2013 at 11:30 pm - Reply

      I found these straws on Amazon (see link at the end of the post). But I also found really great straws in bright basic colors at Meijers!

  2. Maureen February 8, 2013 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    Awesome idea! We’ve been using measuring tapes in our program but to make their own to use is a fantastic idea.

  3. Henrick February 11, 2013 at 2:18 am - Reply

    Hehe the numbers in the measuring tape were written in opposite way, so cute of the kids that they are so enthusiastic with their art and creativity, thumbs up *superlikes*

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