Here’s a fun STEM challenge, and the materials couldn’t be simpler! Challenge kids to build the longest possible paper chain with just one sheet of paper and tape. That’s it!

This math activity will appeal to a wise range of ages. I’d recommend it for kids age 5 to 10. If they can safely cut with scissors and manage the tape, they are old enough to try it.

I found this idea while cruising on Pinterest, but there was no link attached to the photo. Thankfully it’s not hard to figure out. This math activity has a little fun competition and feels like a craft, and kids will never realize they’re working on geometry and measurement.

We started with colored paper, just for fun. Construction paper or plain white paper will also work just fine.

The kids got right to work! It was interesting to observe whether they had a plan in mind before cutting, or whether they jumped right in. We had some of both.

Here’s the kid with the plan. Hmmm…

When the chains were done, the boys measured them to see who won.

Gresham’s paper chain was an impressive 6 feet and 6 inches! All of these chains were made with one sheet of paper. The purple one is Janie’s (age 3). She wasn’t trying to win – Aidan just helped her learn how to make a paper chain (and he did all the cutting).

After the activity, you can discuss why cutting the strips wider results in fewer strips and less chain length. It’s a fun project!

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  1. Austin Wells Dec 4, 2020

    I did the project with a friend using one piece of paper and one hour we made a 50 foot chain

    1. Jessica Dec 14, 2020

      How did you do that? We have a contest coming up and are looking for ideas.

  2. carol Dec 9, 2020

    To create a challenge for older students, I allotted each child a choice one 5x7 or one 3x5 index card. The interesting ideas these kids dug out of their brains was a lot of fun! And we had a chain over 6' long!

  3. Kelly Newman Feb 26, 2021

    Do you tell them the contest is to make the longest chain before they start?


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