How to make a toy merry-go-round

Updated February 21, 2017

The merry-go-round or carousel, a staple amusement ride in carnivals and parks in many parts of the world, has its origins in an Arabic training game from the 1100s. According to the Carousel Museum's history information, the training was so intense that Spanish observers called the game "carosella," or "little war." Today the carousel provides hours of fun and entertainment for people all over the world. You can build a toy replica of the merry-go-round for your own enjoyment at home.

Create figures to ride your merry-go-round. Cut out pictures from magazines, or draw figures yourself on plain paper and then cut them out. It does not matter what type of figures you use, but for a traditional merry-go-round you will want horses.

Glue your cut-outs to cardboard to make them stronger and more stable. Once the glue has dried, cut out the cardboard figures and set them aside.

Lay an empty paper towel roll onto a piece of cardboard. Mark each end on the cardboard. Measure the distance between the two marks and draw a small mark to indicate the centre of the two lines.

Place the point of a compass on your centre mark and extend the compass arm to reach one of the end marks. Draw a circle connecting the two points. Cut out the circle.

Trace the circle you just cut onto a different area of the cardboard to make a replica circle. Repeat twice more and cut out the replicas, so that you have four identical circles. Measure the circles and mark the centre point on each circle like you did on the original.

Stand the paper towel roll up so that the circle at one end stands over the centre point of one circle. Trace the tube shape around the centre point of the circle and cut out the resulting small hole. Repeat with all four circles, so that all four have holes in the centre.

Line up the centre holes of two of the circles. Glue the two circles together with the centre holes aligned. Repeat with the other two circles. Gluing the two circles together will reinforce the cardboard and make the merry-go-round stronger. Allow the glue to dry.

Line up the individual figures you cut out earlier with the centre of wooden barbecue skewers. The skewers come in different sizes, so you will have a choice regarding how tall you want your carousel to be.

Glue each figure to an individual barbecue skewer; the skewers will serve as the poles of the merry-go-round. You may want to glue them at different places on the skewer so that it looks like the figures are going up and down like they do on a real merry-go-round.

Cover the bottom inch of the paper towel roll with craft glue. Carefully thread the bottom of the tube through the centre holes of one pair of circles to form the centre piece of the merry-go-round.

Insert the skewers around the perimeter of the bottom piece of your merry-go-round. Place a small drop of craft glue to the bottom of the skewer and pierce the cardboard with the skewer. Spread them out so that the figures are not touching each other.

Cover the top of the skewers as well as the top 1 ½ inches of the paper towel roll with craft glue. Place the remaining pair of circles onto the merry-go-round, threading the paper towel roll through the centre holes and piercing the cardboard with the skewers. Leave ½ inch of paper towel roll sticking out the top of the circles.

Allow all glue to dry. Gently grab the top ½ inch of paper towel roll and turn it to spin the merry-go-round.


If you are using reinforced or extremely thick cardboard, you may not need to reinforce your carousel's top and bottom with extra circles. If you use thick cardboard, you may need a utility knife to cut out the pieces instead of regular scissors.


This craft may be fun for children, but always supervise them when using sharp cutting instruments.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors
  • Magazines
  • Markers or crayons
  • Paper
  • Craft glue
  • Cardboard
  • Paper towel roll
  • Ruler
  • Compass
  • Skewers
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About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.