Make a Scale Drawing

Part of the Petra exhibition.

Educator's Guide: Activity

Time required: 1-2 periods

Age level: grades 4 - 8

This activity challenges students to combine mathematical and drawing skills to create a scale drawing. Before studying a site, archaeologists place a grid over it, and then draw the contents of each grid square within a corresponding square on a piece of graph paper. This creates a scale model of the site, which serves as a reference throughout the excavation. [The scale is determined by the relationship between the actual size of the grid square within the site being investigated and the size of the representative grid square on the graph paper].


  • Graph paper
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Assorted familiar classroom objects (tape dispensers, chalk, keys, cups, etc.)
  • Tape (masking, scotch, or duct)


Each student's desk will be his or her site. Give each student a piece of graph paper and place one or two items on each desk. You may want to tape the objects onto the desks so they don't shift.

Ask students to visualize a large grid placed over the desktop. They should recreate this grid on a smaller scale on their graph paper. Using a 4:1 scale (4 cm on desk = 1 cm) on the graph paper, students should measure the size and position of each item and draw it to scale at the appropriate location on the paper.

Once the exercise is finished, students should swap drawings and compare them to the respective sites to see if the measurements are accurate.

Activity extensions

Challenge students to convert their drawings to a different scale, such as 5:1 (5cm=1cm) on graph paper.

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