How to Make Carousels Out of Paper

Updated June 18, 2018

Carousels began as training tools for warriors, combining elements of the quintain, a pole-mounted jousting target, with "riding at the rings," a skill contest in which mounted knights tried to catch small brass rings on their lances. People usually picture carousels with horses or fantasy animals, but you can also make them with bicycles, motorcycles or race cars. You can paint, draw or assemble a paper carousel as a fun craft project.

Fill your printer with plastic overhead projection sheets instead of paper. Print images of carousel horses, dragons and other fantasy creatures or bicycles, motorcycles and race cars onto the sheets in black ink. All these images are your "horses."

Tape the four corners of a 9- by 12-inch sheet of white or light-coloured construction paper to your desk or table, with one long side facing you.

Choose three to five of the images you printed on the clear plastic overhead sheets to serve as the "horses" for your carousel. Match the corners of one of the overhead sheets to the corners of the paper on the table.

Trace the image onto the first white or light-coloured sheet of paper with a pencil. Repeat all previous steps until you have traced three to five carousel animals onto sheets of white or light-coloured paper. Cut each image from the paper, taking care to keep corners and other details sharp.

Select as many sheets of bright-coloured paper as you have "horses." Glue them to one another at the short ends, by overlapping the sheets 1/2-inch to 1-inch. Apply glue along the overlap and press the sheets together. Secure the overlapped pieces with paper clips at the top and bottom, allowing the paper to dry overnight before proceeding.

Paint or colour each "horse" as desired. Embellish them with rhinestones, dots of punched paper, metallic cord and satin ribbon.

Arrange your "horses" at different levels, evenly spaced, on the connected sheets of construction paper.

Lift one "horse" at a time from the paper and position a metallic chenille stem in its place, to serve as a pole. Glue the stem to the paper before you glue the "horse" over the stem.

Glue the right and left ends of your "horse" arrangement together to make the body of your carousel. Secure the glued portion with paper clips at the top and bottom, until the glue dries. It should now stand upright like an oversized can.

Trace around the base of your carousel with a pencil, on a sheet of white or light-coloured paper. Place one end of a ruler on the outer edge of the resulting circle and move the other end around the circle until you find the longest arc, which is the diameter. Draw a line across the circle, along the ruler.

Move one end of the ruler 90 degrees along the outer edge of the circle. Move the other end of the ruler around the circle until you find the longest arc again. Draw a second line. Use the point where the two lines cross as the centre of the circle.

Draw a circle 2 inches larger in diameter than the base of your carousel, using the centre point of the carousel base as the centre for the new circle. Mark two points along the outer edge of the circle, two inches apart. Draw a line from the first point to the centre of the circle, and a second line from the second point to the centre.

Cut along both lines from the outer edge of the circle to the centre, and remove the resulting wedge. Overlap the cut edges of the wedge and glue along the overlap. Secure the overlapped edges with a large paper clip until the glue dries. This creates a peaked top for your carousel.

Use bright and metallic acrylic paints, rhinestones and other embellishments to decorate the top of your carousel. Use clear silicone adhesive or a hot melt glue gun and clear glue sticks to attach your carousel top to its base.


If you have trouble finding the centre of the circle using the method above, try using a compass along with a ruler and drawing two arcs anywhere along the outer edge of the circle, then using each end of each arc as centre points to make two lines. The intersection of those lines is the centre of the circle.

Things You'll Need

  • Clear plastic overhead sheets
  • Images of carousel horses, dragons, fantasy creatures
  • Images of bicycles, motorcycles, race cars
  • White or light-coloured construction paper
  • Tape
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Pack of 9- by 12-inch sheets of bright-coloured paper
  • Paper clips
  • Coloured pencils, markers, acrylic paints or crayons
  • Metallic cord and satin ribbon
  • Paper punch
  • Bag of rhinestones, variety of colours
  • Metallic chenille stems
  • Paper clips
  • Clear silicone adhesive or a hot melt glue gun and clear sticks
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About the Author

Jane Smith has provided educational support, served people with multiple challenges, managed up to nine employees and 86 independent contractors at a time, rescued animals, designed and repaired household items and completed a three-year metalworking apprenticeship. Smith's book, "Giving Him the Blues," was published in 2008. Smith received a Bachelor of Science in education from Kent State University in 1995.