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{Tutorial} How to make the easiest trundle wheel ever!

Free activity home made math Multiage Trundle Wheel Tutorial

Instead of an activity from a unit, this month I am giving you a tutorial on how to make a trundle wheel.

How to make and use a simple trundle wheel home made math

People have been telling me "make a video, make a video!" Well, guess what I made a video! :D I've also provided steps and tips below.

A trundle wheel is a measuring tool. Basically it is a wheel that helps to record the distance travelled. More complex wheels have a recording mechanism but the basic wheels (that you might remember using in school) click every interval. You count these clicks to determine the distance travelled. 

Once you have a trundle wheel you can complete large scale measuring activities with ease. They're useful for map making, trigonometry activities, or speed activities such as Panther Run.

While I'm providing this tutorial  to show you how EASY it is to make your own rudimentary trundle wheel, might I suggest that you present your child/student with the task of creating their own design. Explain what a trundle wheel is and ask if they think they could make something that "clicked" every meter (or yard). By creating their own design they will have an intrinsic understanding of how the apparatus works and what the measurement is. Plus it is a wonderful way to practice some hands on problem solving skills. If they get stuck you can always show them this video, which is also available on my brand new YouTube channel.

How to Make the Easiest Trundle Wheel Ever!


What you need:

  • 1 wheel on a fork (preferably 1m/1yard circumference, or padded out to this measure. You could use foam craft tape or a rubber tube/hose, whole or cut in half as needed, attatched with strong glue.)
  • 1 strong elastic band
  • 1 small but sturdy stick approximately the length of your tyre width
  • Tape

 Simple trundle wheel on a wall how to make a trundle wheel home made math

What to do:

1. Measure the wheels circumference and adjust as necessary, see above for suggestions.

**TIP You can use any size wheel, it will just make calculating your distances slightly more difficult - When measuring the distance count how many clicks (or full rotations of the wheel) occur as you measure. To calculate the distance multiply the number of clicks by the wheel circumference. So d = c × n, where d is distance, c is wheel circumference, n is number of clicks/rotations. For example, using a wheel with a circumference of 1.5m, I walk a distance and count 10 "clicks". Therefore the distance I walked is 1.5m × 10 = 15m **

2. Place the stick across the tread of the tyre and tape in place.

3. Place the elastic band over the wheel fork. Position so that the stick catches on the elastic as it passes, making a "twang" noise.

4. Test and adjust as necessary.

5. Measure. Start with your stick just past/infront of the elastic. As you walk roll the wheel along the ground and count the "twangs". Each "twang" represents 1 meter (or the circumference of your wheel), therefore if I count 5 "twangs" I have walked 5 meters.


Xx Becky

PS Find previous free activities from home made math can be found here. You're welcome.

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