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Building is fun — and a little competition makes it even more fun!

Tallest Tower activities are being used to encourage teambuilding in schools and organizations. They are even being used to research human behavior! Check out this Ted Talk.

Two students show off their towers

Getting Started

Decide if you want to build towers individually or in small groups.

What You'll Need (For Each Person or Team)

Materials gathered in a box

The Rules

Variations in the Rules

Variations in the Materials

Two students show off their towers

Measuring Outside the Box

Sometimes you don't need a ruler to know which object is tallest.

You can use pretty much any object to measure any other object — crackers, crayons, LEGOS, shoes, anything! This way of measuring isn't precise but it's often close enough to count.

It works really well for comparisons. If one object is two crackers long, and the other is three crackers long, you know immediately the second one is longer.

Here's another example. You know the paper you use for school is 8.5 x 11 inches long. In a pinch, you can use paper to estimate how long something is. If your forearm is a little longer than the width of the paper, it's going to be about 9 inches long. How about your foot? Your shin?

A credit card is another way to guess how long something is. A standard card is slightly less than 3.5 inches long and 2 inches wide. If the length of your pinky finger is roughly the width of a credit card, then you know it's 2 inches long.

There are countless items you can use to measure things — string, 1-inch unifix blocks, 1-inch paper clips. Measuring is way more fun when you mix it up!

These activities were created by Janet Ulwick-Sacca for Great Expectations.


Drawings of pipes

All buildings require a firm foundation!

Assembling the Materials

Counting and measuring with Legos shows a Lego ruler

Assemble the materials on a tray or in a bin. Use a piece of black paper to help reduce visual clutter for students with low vision.
Counting and measuring with Legos shows a Lego ruler

Why use an ordinary ruler to measure things, when you can use LEGOs!

Counting and measuring with Legos shows a Lego ruler

Accessible Measures

Rulers: You can buy large print and braille rulers from a variety of sources. Simply Google "braille ruler".

National Braille Press has just released its accessible caliper ruler!

The yellow NBP caliper

Restaurant Fun!

Sugar packets in a bowl

Looking for ways to keep the kids occupied at a restaurant? Get them to measure things!

How many sugar packets long is your placemat? Your napkin? Your fork?

And how tall can you stack those cool little round coffee creamers? Whose stack is the tallest? Dad's!

Stack of coffee creamers

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