Do You Have Wrapping Paper Tubes? Paper Towels Tubes? Toilet Paper Tubes? Then Let’s Do Some Math! Shortest and Tallest, Shortest and Longest, and Everything in Between


With gift wrapping done at our house and having a family of five, we have no problem collecting paper towel tubes, wrapping paper tubes, and toilet paper tubes.  I thought this was best time to find out what they know and remember about comparing items in terms of shortest, tallest, and any height in between.  At this time, my sons are 4 and 3 years of age and my daughter is six months old.  This learning activity was done with two boys and a baby, took 15 minutes or so, and it was before bedtime.  So if this was a success with us, then just about anyone can do this at any time of day! 🙂

While my second oldest was playing, I asked my oldest which tube was the tallest out of the collection of tubes in front of him.  Then I asked him what was the second tallest. Then I switched it up and put the wrong tube after the other two and asked if this was correct.  With my oldest, this took about 1-2 minutes to complete the whole thing, resulting in what you see on the photo above.

To compare length, I asked much of the same questions about length, instead of height and he placed the tubes as you see them on the photo below.  He was done and wanted to work on the mega blocks.  This was perfect timing to get my second oldest to try this out.  Doing much of the same thing with my second oldest, he too had no problem with placing the tubes from tallest to smallest or lay them out as longest to shortest, and vice versa.  My second was having fun with this.  He wanted more!  Hmmm….Let’s tape them together to see how tall you are in cardboard tubes.


With a little painter’s tape, cardboard tubes, and my little helper, we were able to stack the tubes on top of each other to see how tall he is.  It was fun for him because he chose which tubes to use and how many of them we needed to add or take away from his creation.  He stepped back and was able to actually see how tall he really is.  A really big smile was on his face and he was happy with that.

The oldest watched what was going on and wanted to do that as well.  So he and I worked much the same way with him choosing the tubes.  We went a step further and included the mega blocks that he was playing with earlier.  Next to the tower of tubes, he stacked the mega blocks as high as his height.  He thought this was very awesome.  He then wanted to know how tall his little sister would be in mega blocks.  I placed her on the floor and spoke with her as he grabbed some mega blocks and made his creation.  It was a learning experience for both of us because once he thought he was done, she would move and I would gently stretch her out to see if the block creation was long enough.  Let me just say that there was a lot of adjusting 🙂 My second oldest came into the picture and thought this was funny and joined in on the fun.  🙂  What you see below is the height of all three kids, whether with cardboard tubes, mega blocks, or both.

An important note is that I did not make my second oldest work with the mega blocks.  This was to be a fun learning experience, especially understanding this was before bedtime. 🙂



Where is this on the Schedule of Activities from 18 months to 3 years of age?


  1. Wednesday on Big and Small

Where is this on the Schedule of Activities for 3 to 5 years of age?


  1. Tuesdays for Measurement

Something to Think About:

This is perfect if you want a learning activity for your one child, or children of multiple ages.  An extension of this would be to take rulers, or tailor tape, and see how tall your child is or children are in inches, centimeters, feet, yards, etc.  You can use wooden blocks if you don’t have mega blocks, or you can even use Legos.  You can even use plastic cups, or paper cups to stack them up to see how tall your child is.  The idea is to give them as many opportunities to show height and length and also using the vocabulary.  Most importantly, remember to have fun.

Again, as a parent, we might think we need to hurry up on teaching certain things to our children so that they won’t fall behind.  This allows us to become more stressed or pressured if our children are not learning at the rate we think they should.  No worries….just breathe.  Because even reading this blog and finding out how to help your child become more successful in math, literacy, and art should tell you that you are a wonderful and caring parent.  If your child takes more time to learn concepts, it is okay.  We all learn at different times.   I will say this over and over again because it is that important to know that you are doing a great job!

copyright 2014 learning math with mom

copyright 2014 learning math with mom

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