Making new tools is good exercise for creativity skills. Improvising tools from available materials can be equally educational - and entertaining as well.
My wife has a cake transporter - effectively a large plastic dome-like shape that attaches, via clamps, to a tray that serves as the base for the cake. She wanted to know how tall a cake she could carry in it.
After some mental design work with combinations of yard sticks and tape measures I hit on a much simpler method. I stuck a telescoping pocket magnet to a steel disk and set this upright on the transporter base with it extended to a length greater than the height of the cover. Then it was simply a matter of putting the cover on the transporter, thus compacting the magnet. Remove magnet and measure comfortably with a ruler.