My 6 year old came home from Kindergarten the other day with the assignment to learn how to draw a straight line. drawing straight linesI had never thought about the coordination involved in using a ruler to draw a straight line! We decided to have a little fun with the task. First, I drew 18 dots on a right angle {see above}.   I numbered them from top to bottom and then right to left.   I helped him line up his ruler on this number pair dot to dot. A line was drawn between the matching numbers.   One to one.   Two to two.   Three to Three.   On and on… It took Rhett a few lines, but then he recognized the pattern.   It was the same pattern we have on our homeschool room wall.   He helped me with the wall string art:

Straight Lines made with stringEven though he helped me with the string, he hadn’t thought about how it was STRAIGHT lines that created a curve until we recreated it on paper.   At that point, he was really excited to draw straight lines…by himself.

So I simplified the pattern and placed the dots a bit further apart.

Drawing Straight Lines

I drew two parallel sets of dots that were 1/2 inch apart on a piece of paper.

straight line drawingMy lines had 13 dots {no reason other than it fit nicely in the space}.

I then made several photocopies of the page so that we could experiment with numbering them various ways.

straight line drawing progression1.   Parallel lines

For the first trial, both lines were numbered sequentially down starting at the top.

When Rhett drew lines between matching numbers, he ended up with 13 parallel lines down the page.

I helped a little with the ruler placement, but it was something that he got better at as he progressed.

2.   Bow Tie

This time one line of dots was numbered from top to bottom and the other was numbered from bottom to top.

This created a little “dot to dot” seeking for Rhett to find the matching number.

It didn’t take him long to figure out the pattern and then he started guessing what the “picture” would be.

I think we ended up with a very nice bow tie!

3.   Double Bow Tie

On this one, I mixed it up a little by keeping the middle number, 7, parallel.   Then the top portion was numbered from top to bottom on one side and from bottom to top on the other.   This was repeated on the bottom half as well.

This one caused Rhett much delight because just when he thought he had it figured out, the top portion was completed in a small bow tie.

He quickly figured out that the bottom was a mirror image.

4.   Kids Choice

After all that straight line drawing practice, Rhett was ready to choose his own pattern.   I handed over the pen and he took great care in adding the numbers all by himself.

He had realized that he would need matching numbers on each line.   I prompted him to add the same number to each line before he went on to the next number.

This would help him stay organized and not end up with unpaired digits.

Once we got into this project, I realized how many different math and art concepts we were touching on by playing with straight lines.   The variations are literally endless.   This was also something that we could do together if we wanted to make really, really straight lines.   Or if Rhett wanted to work on his own, he was learning coordination and exploring what pictures numbers can draw.

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  1. Thanks so much for this. I’ve just come home from a meeting with my son’s teacher in which she shared her concerns about his co-ordination. I was quite surprised by this as he can sew and build and has very good fine motor skills. She then explained its his bilateral coordination which is an issue and the best way to help with this is just to practice using a ruler. Your idea of the dots and numbers is perfect, so simple in principle but it can be mixed up in so many ways it won;t get boring for him. Also, I’d never have thought of this so thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Totally fun! We actually did a simplified version of this during church on Sunday with my four year old. It kept him quiet and engaged for 30 minutes. I will have to try your bowtie idea. We also made a big version of that game where one person draws a straight line (dot to dot), then the other person draws it, and you keep taking turns till all the dots are connected. I loved doing line activities like this with my K and 1st graders. This is such a hard thing to learn for some kids!

    1. Oh I LOVE that game idea. It is like a simplified version of the dot and box game for younger kids. Thanks Kristina!

  3. Hi, this looks like a lot of fun for the kids and parents. I have bookmarked this page in hopes to use your ideas with my grand daughters.
    thanks for making it fun!

  4. What a fabulous and simple idea! Sometimes, it’s the easy things, like dots, paper, & a ruler, that bring the biggest light bulb moments!!