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Muddy Faces

Elder four wheeler

A fun making project for children. Create a little vehicle for an animal or toy using elder beads as wheels.

Art & Creating


Turn four simple elder beads into a set of wheels and then design and create your own skateboard/go-kart/miniature car!

* Muddy Faces actively promotes child-led outdoor play & learning. We recognise and believe in the curiosity that children have and their drive to explore and discover. We hope that you will bear this in mind when considering more prescribed activities like this one – often much more creative ideas will occur if resources are simply provided and children are given the time and space to explore independently.

What you'll need

  • Length of elder with inside pith the diameter of a match
  • bypass secateurs or small saw
  • matches
  • lollipop sticks
  • masking tape

This activity has been provided by

Useful items from our shop

Item available from our shop

Environmental Considerations

Consider the environmental impact of preparing, carrying out & completing this activity. Could this impact be reduced? Specific considerations for this activity could include:

Health & Safety Considerations

Follow your usual operating procedures and carry out appropriate risk benefit assessments.
Some considerations particular to this activity include:

  • tool use
Art & Creating

Step #1 Cut your elder

Using by-pass secateurs or a small saw cut off a piece of elder about the diameter of your forefinger and about 5cm in length.

Ideally the pith in the centre of the elder should be about the diameter of a match stick (If the pith is thicker than a match then you could use a thin piece of dowel or similar.)

If you want smooth wheels rather than ‘off road’ wheels then peel off the bark at this stage.

Art & Creating

Step #2 Wheels

Cut your length of elder into 4 equal pieces (these will be the wheels).

Art & Creating

Step #3 Insert match sticks

Remove the striking end of 2 matches.

Push each match stick approx. half way into the pith of 2 of the ‘wheels’. Hopefully it will be a tight fit to hold the match in place.

Ta da … a fairy lollipop! If you want to stop at lollies, go no further!

If you want to complete the wheels then carry on – insert the other end of each match into the pith of the other 2 wheels.

Art & Creating

Step #4 Axles

Create a tube around the match (axle).

This can be done by taping a piece of card around or, in our photo, we used masking tape – sticky side up first and then another layer sticky side down.

The aim is to create a cylinder that moves around the match – for the axle to rotate within.

Repeat with the other set of wheels.

Art & Creating

Step #5 Chassis

Create a chassis.

We used two lollipop sticks taped together, but please share any other engineering designs with us!

Art & Creating

Step #6 Build your vehicle

Connect the chassis to the wheels.

Have a go your way and experiment with different fixing ideas. but once finished the chassis should be attached and the wheels should turn freely.

Take it further:

  • make a seat, decorate it, test out its load bearing or have a downhill race!
  • (don’t forget a seat belt!)

Disclaimer: Muddy Faces cannot take any responsibility for accidents or damage that occurs as a result of following this activity.You are responsible for making sure the activity is conducted safely.

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