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Popsicle stick Ferris wheel decorated like the Pixar Pal-A-Round from Disney's California Adventure on a white table
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DIY Popsicle Stick Ferris Wheel

Turn popsicle sticks and beads into a functioning ferris wheel!
Active Time3 hrs
Yield: 1 Ferris Wheel
Cost: $30

Equipment

  • Scissors
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Hot glue sticks

Materials

For Pixar Pal-A-Round Version

Instructions

  • Glue four jumbo popsicle sticks to one wooden spool in a cross shape.
  • Glue four additional jumbo popsicle sticks on top in an x shape as shown above.
  • Glue eight regular popsicle sticks between the ends of each jumbo popsicle stick. Repeat these steps to create a second ferris wheel shape.
  • Glue the two spools together, being sure to align the shapes so the “crosses” match up on either side.
  • Cut dowels down to fit within the space created between your ferris wheel front and back. You’ll need eight of these pieces. Slip a wood bead over each end.
  • Glue the bead/dowel pieces to each popsicle stick intersection.
  • Create the base for the ferris wheel by lining up 13 jumbo popsicle sticks and gluing four jumbo popsicle sticks, vertically, on top to connect all of them.
  • Overlap two popsicle sticks about 1-2″ and glue together. Repeat three more times.
  • Cross to sets of these glued sticks at the top, about 2 inches down, (as shown) and glue. Repeat with the remaining set. These will be the braces for your ferris wheel.
  • Hold the popsicle stick braces up to your base and determine where you’ll need to place your wood blocks. (These will be what you glue the braces too.) Glue the four wood blocks in place.
  • Glue the braces to the outside of each wood block.
  • Slide a dowel through the center of the two spools and add two wood beads to each end. One will sit between the Ferris wheel and the brace, the other will sit on the outside of the brace. Trim the dowel as desired.
  • If you are turning this into the Pixar Pal-A-Round, leave a little extra room for adding the starburst details and do NOT glue the beads in place, keep reading below. Otherwise, place a little glue on the inside of the outer bead and slide it back on the dowel to secure it in place on the end of the dowel.
  • Now we’ll make the ferris wheel cars. Cut three 3″ pieces from your jumbo popsicle sticks. Line them up and glue together using additional jumbo popsicle stick pieces. See above. Repeat to make a second. You’ll need two for each car, one will be the top and one will be the bottom.
  • Cut down additional jumbo popsicle sticks and glue them around the bottom piece you just made. You’ll want a full back, two sides, and then two small pieces for the front that leave an opening for inserting characters (or whatever else will be riding this carousel. *Note: Upon turning this into the Pixar Pal-A-RoundI decided to add an additional piece to the back so that I had more space to add detailing. This is not pictured here until the end of the tutorial! This is not necessary if you are just making the regular ferris wheel.
  • Cut four regular popsicle sticks in half.
  • Glue those halves into each corner of the bottom of your ferris wheel car as shown.
  • On the top piece you created, glue two pieces of regular popsicle sticks in the middle. This is how the car will “sit” on the ferris wheel dowel.
  • Repeat these steps for all ferris wheel cars, eight total.
  • If you’re planning to paint your Ferris wheel, do so now before going any further. If not, go ahead and slip the top over the dowel and then glue it to the bottom piece you created.
  • To turn this into the Pixar Pal-A-Round, paint each car. They are a mix of blue, purple, yellow/orange, green and red. Then, paint the ferris wheel teal, and the braces black.
  • Add the starburst shapes. Print and cut out your templates. Trace them onto your yellow mat board and cut out using a ruler and x-acto knife. You’ll need two of the larger starburst and one of the smaller. Use your awl to make a hole in the center of each, big enough to slip over the dowel.
  • Print a Mickey face on cardstock. Cut out and glue on top of the smaller starburst. Remove the outer bead on your ferris wheel dowel and slide the larger starburst shapes on each side. Then place a bead of glue inside the bead and slide back over the end to secure.
  • Glue the smaller starburst and Mickey face to the end of the bead on whatever you determine to be the “front” side.
  • Print and cut out the Pal-A-Round characters from cardstock. Glue one to the back of each ferris wheel car.

Notes

Tips for turning this into the Pixar Pal-A-Round:
  • If you'd like, go ahead and paint all your popsicle sticks before assembling. It would be easier to access everything, you just have to ensure you've planned out what popsicle sticks go where.
  • If you have the ability to print in black and white, try doing that while testing the size of the Mickey and Pixar characters, to avoid wasting color ink!