Lesson 11

Building a Trundle Wheel

Lesson Narrative

This lesson is optional. In the second lesson of the 4-lesson sequence, students build a trundle wheel, a device used to measure walking distances. First, they learn about a trundle wheel and discuss how such a device works (MP5). Then, students use paper plates to make a usable trundle wheel and practice using it to measure distances in the classroom.

Students can either use the same-sized paper plates or different groups can use different-sized paper plates. The use of different-sized plates allows for more mathematical discussion about how diameter and circumference of the plates affect how we report the distance being measured (MP6).

As with all lessons in this unit, all related standards have been addressed in prior units. This lesson provides an optional opportunity to go deeper and make connections between domains.

Learning Goals

Teacher Facing

  • Create a trundle wheel and use it to calculate the length of the classroom.
  • Explain (orally and in writing) how a trundle wheel is used to measure long distances.

Student Facing

Let’s build a trundle wheel.

Required Preparation

To build the trundle wheel, each group of 3–4 students will need 1 paper plate, a metal paper fastener, something long object to use as the handle, an index card, and tape.

Ideally, have three different sizes of paper plates for different groups to work with (typical sizes are 6–12 inches) to help reinforce the point that the size of the plate affects how many “clicks” (rotations) it takes to measure the same distance.

There are many options for how to make the handles. A yardstick or meter stick with a hole on one end is most convenient. Alternatively, you can tape two rulers together or cut pieces of sturdy cardboard or foam core that are about 1.5 inches wide by 30 inches long, and poke a hole centered at one end.

CCSS Standards

Building On


Print Formatted Materials

Teachers with a valid work email address can click here to register or sign in for free access to Cool Down, Teacher Guide, and PowerPoint materials.

Student Task Statements pdf docx
Cool Down Log In
Teacher Guide Log In
Teacher Presentation Materials pdf docx

Additional Resources

Google Slides Log In
PowerPoint Slides Log In