Measuring sticks


Measuring or spacing sticks are used to indicate where seeds and plants should be spaced in the row to help with numeracy skills.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors & Indoors
  • School term: All year round
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Maths, Art&DT

Learning objectives

  • Work with tools, equipment and materials to make a quality product
  • Use and apply numbers, counting, number patterns and sequences

Essential background information


Ensure tool use training has been given if the children will be using the saw themselves. Saw the wood into the lengths given below and use sandpaper to smooth the edges.

Read over the vegetable crop planner. Use this to decide what plants you want to grow in the garden and their sowing distances so they can be put on your measuring stick. Alternatively, gather your seeds packets and go through the same process with these. 


  • Wood lengths 100cm long, 5-10cm wide, 1-2cm deep
  • Sandpaper
  • Tape measure
  • Ruler
  • Saw
  • Permanent marker pens (black and coloured)
  • Vegetable crop planner or seed packets for sowing distances

Step by step

  1. Look at our vegetable crop planner and find out what common planting distances are. If you want to grow a specific crop look at seed packets to find sowing distances. 
  2. Prepare your stick ready for use, 100-120cm is a useful size.  
  3. Use marker pens to ink in the lines of measurement. If your group is allowed to use tools, use a saw to make these marks permanent on your stick. 
  4. For smaller seeds, use a pencil to make marks every 5cm on one side of your stick and every 10cm on the other.
  5. For larger seeds, on one side mark out every 15cm and on the reverse measure out every 20cm.
  6. Measuring sticks can be decorated with pictures of particular vegetables relating to the spacings.

Hints & tips

  • Think about how to store your measuring sticks safely. Will they stand in a pot or hang on the shed wall?
  • Cover the sticks with varnish to make them more durable and store in the shed to protect from the elements
  • Use this activity as part of Grow Your Own Lunch class growing topic