STEM Craft for Kids: Make Cool Art From Rulers, Protractors & More!

Little learners can use common math tools to boost their confidence, creativity and STEM/STEAM skills.

Nov 09, 2018



STEM Craft for Kids: Make Cool Art From Rulers, Protractors & More!
© Quarry Books

Nov 09, 2018

Your child’s first interaction with a new object, whether it’s food, a toy, or a tool, can make a lasting impression. Introducing rulers, compasses, and protractors in a fun, creative way — by making math (tool) art, for example — offers your young learner a chance to gain familiarity and confidence with key geometry tools while creating cool art in the process.    

You’ll Need

  • Ruler
  • Compass
  • Protractor
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Markers
  • Paint
  • Paper

Safety Tips and Hints: Protractors have sharp points, so younger children should use them only under adult supervision.

What to Do

Step 1: Ask your child to practice making straight lines with a ruler. Can she name the numbers on the ruler? Encourage her to draw lines of different lengths.

Step 2: Explain that parallel lines are two lines that run next to each other at exactly the same distance apart, never touching. Ask your child to try drawing some parallel lines. If he's confused, show him what you mean by drawing parallel lines.

MORE: How to Add Math to Everyday Routines

Step 3: Let her use the ruler to make some squares, triangles, and other polygons.

Step 4: Ask your child to trace a protractor. Show him how protractors can measure angles. Draw some triangles and measure the angles.

Step 5: Help your child make a circle using a compass. It can take some practice! 


Step 6: Now, ask your child to turn the lines and shapes they created into a piece of art, using markers, paint, and anything else she can think of. Encourage her to be creative.  

Step 7: Let him create another masterpiece using math tools.

Creative Enrichment  

Make a giant compass in the driveway using a string (or jump rope) and a piece of chalk. Have one person stand in the middle, holding the string, tie the chalk to the other end, and draw a giant circle. You can also pull the string straight and use it to draw a hopscotch grid.

MORE: 3 Ways a Cardboard Box Can Encourage STEM and STEAM Learning

The STEAM Behind the Fun

Ancient Greek mathematicians draw angles and geometric figures using only a compass and a straight edge, which is a ruler without markings. Today, computers are used for most of the precision drawing done by mathematicians, engineers, and architects.


This project and more like it are featured in Liz’s new book STEAM Lab for Kids: 52 Creative Hands-On Projects Using Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (Quarry Books, spring 2018).

© Quarry Books, 2018/STEAM Lab for Kids; photos © Quarry Books

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