Let's Get Rolling

Try these six wheel-focused activities with your child for an afternoon of well-rounded fun.
By Ellen Booth Church




Does your child seem to be in perpetual motion? It’s no surprise — movement is one of the main ways young children actively explore the world around them. In turn, this go-go instinct makes for a natural fascination with things they can set in motion themselves, like a toy car or a spinning top. The activities on this page focus on wheels with spokes made of arts and crafts, science, and critical thinking. Why not take them for a spin?

  1. A Great Race: Together, collect an assortment of your child’s toy cars and trucks for a race. Invite him to make predictions about which will roll the fastest or farthest. Line them up at the top of an incline (a paved driveway or a slide works well), and release them all at once. Discuss the results, then add variables and try it again. What happens if you bind the wheels with rubber bands or put toy figures inside the cars?
  2. Tasty Circles: Ask your child to help you make a meal out of “wheels.” What circular-shaped foods can she think of? She might suggest crackers, tomato slices, or oranges. Pizza is a great one because you can have your child form “spokes” out of mushrooms, olives, or peppers. Then show her how you cut the pie using — what else? — a pizza wheel. It’s a yummy lesson!
  3. Tread Art: Your child can use his small wheeled toys to make tire tracks just like he sees on the road. Place washable paint in a shallow tray or a paper plate. Show your child how to “drive” the toy through the paint and then make shapes on the paper. Try different colors to create all kinds of patterns.
  4. Walk A-Round: Take a walk around the block or through town in search of wheels. Think beyond cars and trucks — you can find wheels on many different things such as carts, scooters, roller blades, etc. Invite your child to count them as she goes and tell you how many are on each item.
  5. Measure Up: Have your child take long pieces of string and measure the circumference (the distance around the outside) of different wheels he finds. You might try the wheels of shopping carts or bikes. How do the lengths of the strings compare to each other?
  6. Color Cues: Together, build a color wheel using a large, sturdy paper plate or cardboard disc and paints. Have your child help divide the wheel into six even pie-shaped slices and then paint each with the appropriate primary color (red, blue, yellow) or secondary color (orange, green, purple). Then take a stroll around the house and ask your child to point out different items that match the colors on his wheel.
Math Activities
Fine Motor Skills
Age 5
Age 4
Age 3
Counting and Numbers
Shapes and Sizes
Early Math
Arts and Crafts