Constructing a Ferris Wheel

Early in the morning, the children from Mrs. Ambreen’s room visited the art studio in order to continue their project on the Ferris Wheel. Mrs. Marjon had been following the children’s progress with Mrs. Ambreen and was eager to present the children with new materials that might push their problem solving skills, creativity, and help them understand the subject matter even more.

Two stations were created. First, the children visited the drawing station. This area was presented to the students so that they could brainstorm their ideas by discussing and drawing the plans for the piece that they were going to create.

The children entered the art studio and were very excited to get to work! They wanted to show Mrs. Marjon what they knew about a Ferris Wheel and what their ideas were for the new sculpture that they were going to make!


Look how amazing these drawing are!

As Mrs. Marjon sat amongst the children and discussed what they had drawn, a few key Ferris Wheel characteristics were repeatedly discussed about among the students. As a group, we decided that we needed to create a list of these points so that we could make our sculpture exactly like we wanted!

They said that their Ferris Wheel had to:

-“be a circle!”

-“have colored lights on it!”

-“let a lot of people ride on it!”

-“have seat belts, so everyone could be safe.”

-“be very tall and have stairs so that people can get on the ride!”

So, with their new list in order, the class set off to find materials that would allow them to bring these ideas to life! A materials station was set up for the children to explore and discuss what might work. The majority of the materials that were chosen were malleable and easy to manipulate in order to create the circular shape of a Ferris Wheel. However, we were quickly reminded that we were not the ones who decided how to problem solve and create this project! The students were not interested in any of the wire or pipe cleaners that were presented, surprisingly they were drawn towards the basket full of dowel sticks.

The students started using the dowel sticks on the floor and tried to create a circle. At first they continued to run into the same problem, they kept creating a triangle!

One of the students said that they needed to add more sticks to make a circle. Once they created their new shape another student yelled, “it’s a pentagon!” That’s not the shape we wanted!

They continued to add more sticks to the shape until all of the students agreed that the shape was perfect for the center of the Ferris Wheel.

Once they had created the shape that they wanted, they all agreed that wheel needed sticks in the center of the wheel to hold the seats around the wheel.

The further they got in their construction the more they realized that something wasn’t quite right. Mrs. Marjon asked the student to look at the picture of the Ferris Wheel one more time and see if they could figure out what looked different.

Taylor said, “The sticks are going the wrong way!”


The students tried to make the sticks move around the outer circle of the Ferris Wheel but they were having a hard time figuring out the exact angle that the lines should be positioned.

Again, Mrs. Marjon invited the children to review the picture of the Ferris Wheel and see if they could find anything that they were missing in their sculpture.

Ella said, “This center part!” (She pointed to the small circle in the center of the wheel that held all of the spokes together).

Mrs. Marjon asked, “Can you find anything around the room that we can use for that part”?

One of the children found a tape roll and thought it would work! She tired it out and everyone thought it was a great idea!

After the center circle was figured out the project seemed to progress very smoothly.

The students took turns adding sticks to the center wheel and they decided to add beads along the outside circle. They said, “they were the people riding the ride!” They were sitting in their seats with their seat belts!

Cami said, “We have A LOT of people on our ride!”

One of the students decided that we needed a few more sticks!


Once the people were almost all placed around the wheel, Taylor said that we are missing the ladder for all of these people to get on the ride! The students looked around the art studio and decided that pasta would be perfect to create a ladder! They soon discovered how breaking the pasta in small pieces made the perfect steps to climb to the top!

The students had so much fun building a ladder they decided that their Ferris Wheel needed a lot of ladders because their were a lot of people who were riding their ride!

Another student came into the studio and observed what the other students were making. We asked him if he wanted to help us and he agreed. He also brought something very important to our attention. He said that all the people (the beads) were going to fall out of their seats if the sticks in the center of the Ferris Wheel did not reach all the way to the edge of the wheel. He intricately started moving all of the sticks towards the outside of the wheel until they touched the beads. “Now they are safe!”

We need a lot of ladders!

It was almost time for lunch so we found a stopping point and decided that we would continue working on the Ferris Wheel tomorrow. The only problem was, the students were afraid that something was going to happen to their project. They decided that they needed to write a sign in order to let everyone know not to touch their work!

Sign reads:

Do not touch our Ferris Wheel

signed by: Raina, Cami, and Taylor

Check back soon to see the progress of this incredible piece!

Below are some examples of the children’s initial sketches for their project. It is amazing to see their drawings take a structural form and also interesting to compare it to the Ferris Wheel above!



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