Worth the Splurge: Plastic Wheels

plastic wheels by kelvin educationalYou’ve seen them in various projects that roll, toddle, and race. For anything ambulant, we highly recommend these fantastic plastic wheels, sold by Kelvin Educational. This post also includes instructions on how to make an official Pop Goes the Page wheel assembly for all your vehicular needs!

We discovered the 1-3/8″ diameter wheels while designing an event for Richard Scarry’s classic book, Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. The event was my son’s idea. He was 6 at the time, and told me the library needed to do “a program about crazy cars you can make.” Crazy cars we DID make, with some science thrown in to boot (details here).

cars and trucks montageTo make a wheel assembly, tape two, 4″ plastic straws to the bottom of a box. Then thread two, 6″ wooden rod “axles” through the straws. We used BBQ skewers cut down to the proper size with pruning shears (and don’t forget to cut off the pointy end of the skewer!). Here’s what a finished wheel assembly looks like:

axles and wheelsThe wheels can be purchased from Kelvin Educational. Black wheels are product #990168 ($10 for 100); and color wheels are #990169 ($11 for 100). Warning! Sometimes, the wheels slide off the ends of the skewers. To remedy that, we hot glue foam beads to the outsides of the wheels. But Kelvin Education DOES sell the same wheels, same price, with “end caps.” So we recommend going with those (black #990170; color #990171).

In terms of sturdiness and versatility, these wheels are definitely worth the splurge! Here are some story time projects we’ve created with them…

pigs on paradePig parade floats (marching band optional)

skunk on the street 3Hitting the streets with your pet skunk

red-wagon cropped

A super sweet tissue box red wagon

go with the floeAn ice floe for a geographically challenged polar bear and penguin family

monster-bike croppedA bicycle for a well-meaning monster


A crêpe cart with all the trimmings, including a menu that allows you to order en français!

If these plastic wheels won’t work for you, alternatives include wooden wheels (a regularly stocked item at Michael’s Craft store), wooden spools, sized-down toilet paper or paper towel rolls attached to the bottom of the box, or poster board/card stock wheels glued to the sides of the box (like this awesome car, or this charming train).

Grumpy can be GREAT

grumpy can be greatScowls, frowns, crabbiness, and a general feeling of malcontent? Totally fine. Because when it comes to pet ownership, you need to find the pet that works for you. Even when you’re grouchy!

We recommend reading The Grumpy Pets by Kristine Lombardi (Harry N. Abrams, 2016). Billy’s mom notices that Billy seems extra grumpy, so she take him and his sister to Perfect Pets Animal Rescue. Will the cute, fuzzy, and adorable pets cheer Billy up? Nope. Stalking through the store, however, Billy finds himself in a very different section. The “Grumpy Pets” section. It’s filled with rows and rows of grouchy, moody, scowling, animals. Billy and a dog have a grumpy stare down and you know what? It might just be love at first sight. Is that a smile we see when Billy gives his new dog a cuddle?

You’ll need:

  • Paper cups
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors and tape and/or glue
  • Markers for decorating

Use markers and/or construction paper to turn a paper cup into a scowling pet. I think Katie’s “hamster with an attitude” is my favorite…

hamster with attitudeWhen everyone is finished, it’s time for a game! Line the pets up on a “pet store” table. One by one, have the kids find their pets, then tell the group (or, if they’re shy, their grown-ups) the pet’s name and what the pet hates. However, the kids must have tremendous scowls on their faces while talking. The minute they smile or laugh, their turn is up!

For older kids, allow the audience to ask the scowling pet owner questions about their pet. Hint: questions about the pet’s potty habits are sure to crack even the most stone-faced 6 year-old.