Boy Mama: 23 Uses for Cash Register Tape

I love finding something in an office supply store, taking it home, giving it to my boys and then watching what they do with it.  I gave my youngest a few pads of sticky notes the other day and he went crazy with them!  They were all over our living room wall and he had written or scribbled something on each one.  I used to give my older son a roll of masking tape. It would keep him busy for a good hour and when he was done we had a web of masking tape to enjoy the rest of the day.


This time I went to the office supply store I picked up a roll of register tape- you know the stuff that goes into the credit card machines? My mind started spinning with different ways to use it.  I haven’t handed the roll over to my boys just yet. First, I want to share with you what I came up with and, tomorrow, I will put the roll into the hands of my boys….

Math Ideas

Patterns: Start a pattern and have your child finish it.  Or have him start a pattern and you finish it.  Or both!

Number Line: Create a number line to practice counting (and number writing). The number line can go as high as your child is ready for! We just went to 10. 🙂

How High Can You Write:  This was a favorite with my first graders. They loved getting a long piece of paper or several pieces of paper taped together, starting at zero and and then writing numbers as high as they could go.  After finishing, you can use a colored marker to highlight patterns. Below the green lines indicate even numbers OR counts by 2.

Tallies: Practice tallying things around the house. See our post, Teacher Mama: Tallies for some ideas.   You can also tally the numbers of days of school has been in session or the number of days until a special event. Try tallying the number of books or chapters your child reads at night. Add the numbers 5, 10, 15 etc to show counts by 5.


Non-Standard Measurement: Create your own ruler with a non-standard unit of measure and use it to measure things around the house.  We used paperclips as our unit of measure below.  The pencil in the photo is about 5 paperclips long. This is a great way to practice using a ruler without all those complicated lines!

  • How Tall? Use the paper to measure how tall your child is.  Have your child lay on the floor, put one end of the roll at your child’s feet and the other at the top of his head.  Use a rule or tape measure to see how tall he is or use another non-standard unit of measure.
  • Growth Chart: Use the paper to create a height chart and track your child’s growth.
  • Family Height Display: Measure all your family members with the paper roll, hang them on the wall from tallest to shortest or shortest to tallest. Add friends or relatives to your height graph when they visit!

Reading Ideas

Sight Words: As your child learns to read new sight words, record them on a strip of paper from the roll so he can continue to practice them and show off to visitors how great he is reading!

Books We’ve Read: Keep track of the books you have read as a family or independently (depending on the child’s age).  Mark every 5th book to reinforce counts by 5.

Message from Mom (or Dad): Create a message for your child to read in the morning. This is the first message I left for my sons.  It said, “Good morning, boys. Today is Thursday. Today is swimming day.  Is it sunny or rainy outside? Love, Mom”  For the beginning reader use lots of repetitive language and incorporate those sight words! Ask a question to keep them engaged!

  • A Line from a Book: Write a favorite line from your favorite books and read them often with your child.  An example may be, “I will not them them Sam I am. I will not eat green eggs and ham.”  Or another favorite here is, “Help! Help! cried the Page, ‘King Bidgood’s in the tub and he won’t come out!'”
  • Color Words: Write the color words on a strip for reading and spelling practice.

Writing Ideas

Comic Strip: Divide the paper into boxes and have your child write (or draw) a comic strip.

Story Frame: Use this story frame to help your plan out a story to write. The “plan” can be words or drawings.

Add on Story: This is a fun game for children who are pretty good writers.  Fold the paper back and forth like an accordian. Write the words, “Once upon a time” above  the first fold, then have person #1 write the rest of the sentence. Fold back the part of the paper that reads “once upon a time” so only the line “there lived a dog” shows.  Have person #2 write the next line to the story. Continue on with each person only seeing the one line before theirs. When you are a done you have a wonderful and wacky story!


Lists: Write a list of any kind– favorites, hopes and dreams, goals, groceries, packing, wishes etc.

  • Spelling Words: Use the paper to keep track of spelling words. Hang the paper in a place where it is very visible.  Keep the papers up even after the spelling test is over for further practice and for later reference when writing.
  • Word Family Tracker: Start one strip for each word family and add more words as your child discovers them.
All  We Know: This was so fun. My son and I decided that we would use a long piece of register paper to draw pictures of all the vehicles we could think of. We took turns drawing. I love what we came up with. Tomorrow we are going to another with our favorite treats!
  • Safety: Write your family surname, street address and phone number on a strip and hang it near a phone in case of emergency and so your child can practice this important information.
  • Let them Play:  Don’t forget to just let them play with the paper!  Some of the most amazing ideas come from our childrens’ minds. 🙂
© Boy Mama Teacher Mama 2012
All Rights Reserved

11 thoughts on “Boy Mama: 23 Uses for Cash Register Tape

  1. Pingback: Teacher Mama: 10 Great Ideas for Teaching Sight Words | Boy Mama Teacher Mama

  2. Pingback: Teacher Mama: Number Line Fun | Boy Mama Teacher Mama

  3. Wow, so many great ideas! We love using it at home too, but will need to try out a number of your suggestions. My dad used to fix calculators when we were young (before every company had computers lol) and always had sooooo much of this stuff at our place. Fond memories. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  4. My daughter loves sticky notes too. Santa put a whole heap in her toy sack.

    Wonderful ideas for the cash register roll- especially the story frames.

    You could also use it to create a time lines (of life, of school years, of school holidays…)

  5. We love cash register paper over at our place too. My little guy is much younger (3) but he loves making really really long drawings 😀
    I’ve also used it as a height chart, just measure your little one and then let them draw or paint on it. Gives you a nice record of how tall they were and what their artistic style was at the time.

    • So glad to hear we are not the only one who loves it! I finally gave the roll to my almost 3 year old and he immediately unrolled the entire roll from one end of the room to the other and back and pretended it was a race track!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *