*Inside: Knowing how to use a ruler is an important life skill for kids to learn. This fun project uses Star Wars-themed paper, a ruler, and a pencil to draw and create a 3-D cube that can be used for room decor, party favors, toys, or gifts.*

**The ruler **is the oldest measuring device, dating back to 2650 BCE. Copper-alloy bars and ivory rods have been found in the ruins of ancient Sumerian cities, and scientists believe that all the earliest civilizations used measurement for agriculture and construction.

Kids need to know that the ruler is not just for measuring the distance from point A to point B on a piece of paper or drawing a straight line in a notebook. Actually, it has wide implications across many diverse industries. A ruler can be used to make a paper cube, sew a dress, build a bookcase, draw blueprints for architecture and engineering purposes, design a landscape, as well as make discoveries in geometry and math.

When I was a kid, I didn’t have access to a computer or other fancy tools, so my wooden ruler got a lot of use. If I wanted to make something like a paper house or make my own book, I got out a ruler and got measuring. One thing I learned fast is the wisdom of the saying, “measure twice, cut once.” Using simple tools like a ruler teaches kids how to work with their hands, how to visualize the solution to geometric problems, and how to be inventive with what’s available.

If you are looking to teach your kids how to use a ruler or want to show them how easy it is to entertain themselves with just a few simple tools you already have in the house, this project is for you.

**A word about paper**

You can use any paper for this project: printer paper, gift wrapping paper, recycled magazines, or scrapbooking paper. Since Star Wars Day is coming up and my sons wanted to make a few new Star Wars-themed decorations for their rooms, we ended up using Star Wars-themed paper.

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**Template**

If it’s too difficult to draw straight lines at this point in your kids’ lives or your kids are simply growing frustrated, print out our template for now, and try this project again another day. It’s still lots of fun to make a little cube even from a template.

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**Star Wars Paper Cube**

**What you need**

Paper

Ruler

Pencil

Glue

Scissors

**Note**: Decide which side of your paper is going to be the upside and do all the drawings and calculations on the other side.

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**What you need to know before you begin**

- This box consists of six squares and seven flaps.
- The six squares are the six faces of our box, and flaps are where we add glue to keep it all together.
- Each face is a square (quadrilateral) with four right angles and four congruent sides.

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**What to do**

**Step 1: The size of your box**

The size of your box will depend on the size of your paper. To create a box from one sheet of paper you need to be able to draw FOUR squares in a row + ONE flap.

Our paper is 12×12 inches. We wanted to leave at least one inch for the flap, so we divided the remaining 11 inches by 4, and ended up with 2.75-inch squares.

I usually prefer to use the **metric system** because it makes calculations so much easier. Just to give you an example, we need to place our first square in the middle of the page. Since the box is 7 cm, 11cm on each side will place our box directly in the middle. If I were to do these calculations in inches, then placing a 2.75-inch cube in the middle of the page would require 4.33 inches on each side of it, which is much harder to get correct on paper. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, do one box with metric and one box with the standard!

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**Step 2: How to find the right angle**

Draw a vertical line on one side of your paper.

As I mentioned above, our box is 7-cm long, and to place it in the middle, I left 11 cm on each side of the box.

Use the ruler to draw a horizontal line.

Now I’m going to show you how to check if it forms a right angle. The classic way of checking the right angle is called the **3-4-5 method**:

- Find a zero point (where your vertical and horizontal lines start).
- Now find a 3cm point on a horizontal line.
- Find a 4cm point on a vertical line.
- Draw a line to connect 3-cm and 4-cm points. It should be 5-cm. If so, you have a right angle.

Learning to draw a perfect square is a useful skill!

**Step 3: Extend the horizontal line **

Now that you made sure you have the right angle, grab the ruler and extend the horizontal line.

How long is it going to be? The size of your box multiplied by 4. In our case, it’s 28 cm long.

The line is straight if the distances A and B are the same lengths. It means there is the same amount of space from the end of the paper to the line on both ends of the paper.

**Step 4: Draw the second horizontal line**

** **Use the same method as was used for the first, checking the right angle.

Note: Alternatively, you can make a paper square in construction paper and use it as a template to trace each of the six squares individually next to each other.

**Step 5: Add middle lines**** **

By marking points along both horizontal lines that mark the edges of the squares, it should be fairly simple to make them straight. Checking the right angles again will give your kids lots of practice.

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**Step 6: Draw the side squares**** **

Make sure that the space marked by arrows is the same length from the edge of the paper on both sides.

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**Step 7: Add the flaps**

It’s not really necessary to use a ruler to draw flaps since it’s the part that is **not **going to be visible. But if you like everything to be pretty, then by all means, make the flaps even and symmetrical.

You need two flaps for each of the side squares + one additional flap at one end of the long line of squares (top or bottom doesn’t matter).

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**Step 8: Cut**

Cut the box out around the whole shape. Don’t make the mistake off cutting only around the squares! Keep the flaps attached.

If you are planning to make more than one cube, use this as a template and trace it on the next pattern.

**Step 9: Fold along all lines**

I like to fold the paper and scrape the fold with the edge of the ruler. It makes for much better sides when the cube is put together.

**Step 10: Glue**

Apply glue to the six flaps, fold the flaps inside, and hold them down with your fingers until the glue sets. If you want your box to open, don’t glue down the top flap.

We decided to go with a glue gun since we wanted the boxes to last for a long time.

Voila! It’s ready!

**Variations:**

If you want a larger box, you would need more than one sheet of paper. Just add flaps to each square, so you can put them all together.

## The Science of Measuring

According to a University of Chicago paper, “*children in the United States perform very poorly on measurement items on standardized mathematics tests compared to students in other countries*.” Let’s change that, shall we?

A good place to start is to explain to your kids that the left side of the ruler is considered a zero, even if zero is not printed on the ruler.

A common error when reading the ruler is not taking into consideration the fact that most rulers have a bit of space before the starting point. I don’t know why it’s there (because it makes everyone’s life more difficult), but just remember that when you measure something you don’t align to the start of the ruler but to the starting point **on** the ruler be it marked by zero or by the black line.

Another common mistake is to look at the marker at an angle and reading off the mark that is either to the left or to the right of the actual point. You have to look straight down.

For extra practice, print out the following Star Wars practice sheet. Print it HERE and instruct your kids to grab a ruler, measure each object on the sheet, and write down the measurement. Is AT-AT taller than R2-D2? By how much? Which object is the shortest? Which object is the tallest?

If you want to make a whole bunch of paper cubes for decoration or gift boxes just print out our template and place it on top of your paper. Trace it slowly, cut it out, then fold and glue. Good luck!

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## This post is part of

*Your Year of Kids Activities*

## series!

### January: Indoor Kids Activities

### February: Dr. Seuss

### March: LEGO

### April (this post): STAR WARS

### May (coming up): Trains

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