All About Wheels: History, Working and Importance

Do you like to roller-blade? How about riding your bike or skateboarding? All these vehicles use wheels to go. Cars, planes and trucks also use wheels. So do baby strollers. A pencil sharpener has a wheel and clocks have wheels with teeth. The teethed wheels interlock with one another.

Wheel Facts for Kids

  • Wheels help things move more easily.
  • The first wheels were from trees.
  • Invented over 5,000 years ago.
  • Not just for cars – think clocks!
  • Wheels can be big or tiny.
  • Some wheels help drive machinery.
  • Skateboards have wheels, too.
  • Gears are wheels with teeth.
  • Wheels on a plane are retractable.
  • Ferris wheels are for fun rides.


In various playthings like bicycles, skateboards, and toy cars, which children frequently engage with, the collaboration of wheels and axles is vital. The axle, being a rod or pole situated at the wheel’s center, facilitates the wheel’s rotation, propelling the object’s movement.

The dimensions of both the wheel and the axle play a significant role in dictating the speed and ease with which the object moves. For example, larger wheels have a greater speed capacity and are more adept at overcoming obstacles compared to their smaller counterparts.

Likewise, the thickness of an axle directly impacts its weight-bearing capacity, preventing it from bending or breaking under pressure. This intriguing interplay personifies the fundamentals of simple machines.


Wheels, a fundamental component of nearly all transportation forms that children encounter daily, are employed in various vehicles such as cars, buses, bicycles, scooters, trains, and even airplanes to facilitate movement.

They function by minimizing friction, thereby making it simpler for vehicles to move in either direction. To bear the load of the vehicles and endure continuous movement, wheels are typically constructed from robust materials like metal or hard plastic. A rubber tire is often fitted around wheels to provide grip, ensuring a smoother and safer journey.

Notably, the wheel’s invention around 3500 B.C. brought about a transportation revolution, altering how people traveled and transported goods.

Simple machines

Wheels, one of the most essential simple machines, have transformed our lifestyle and means of movement since their inception.

Children, you may observe wheels in your bicycles, automobiles, and even toy trains. Interestingly, the wheel’s concept traces back to approximately 3500 BC when our ancestors devised it to ease transportation and manual work. The wheel functions by lessening friction, a force obstructing motion between two surfaces, facilitating the movement of hefty objects.

It spins around a core point, termed the axle, and this spinning action aids in transporting loads from one location to another with less exertion. The wheel and axle theory is a quintessential illustration of how simple machines can enhance the efficiency of our daily chores.


Wheels, serving as more than just a means of transportation, crucially function as integral components of numerous machines, particularly within simple machines such as pulleys. Pulleys are essentially wheels designed with a grooved rim, through which a cord is threaded, and they utilize the principle of the wheel and axle to facilitate the lifting of heavy objects or loads.

Similar to the manner in which wheels mitigate friction during movement, pulleys simplify work by altering the direction of applied force, thereby enhancing our ability to lift objects.

The wide-ranging applications of pulleys, from everyday household items like window blinds to large-scale equipment like construction site cranes, underscore the versatility and significance of wheels in our daily routines.


Wheels, far from being mere round objects facilitating movement, serve as one of the six essential simple machines we utilize daily, akin to levers. Conceptually, a wheel operates as a rotating lever, with its center or axle functioning as the fulcrum or pivot point.

Consequently, exerting force on the wheel is equivalent to applying it on one end of a lever, causing the wheel to revolve around its fulcrum, the axle. This mechanism underscores how a wheel, mirroring a lever, simplifies work.


Wheels, typically circular and crafted from sturdy materials such as wood or metal, play a crucial role in the functionality of carts, particularly during earlier times when carts were a primary mode of transportation. The invention of wheels significantly enhanced the capabilities of carts, permitting them to transport substantial weights over vast distances.

The wheel’s design includes a central hub connected to the cart’s body, an outer rim in contact with the ground, and spokes in between that evenly distribute the load. Larger wheels often make carts easier to maneuver as their increased circumference reduces the amount of effort required to move the cart.

This simplistic yet innovative apparatus transformed travel and commerce, establishing carts as a fundamental instrument in numerous societies.


The wheels are an essential component of bicycles, which children take great pleasure in riding. This invention, conceived around 3500 BC, predates the first bicycle, which was not developed until the 19th century.

Typically, a bicycle consists of two identically sized wheels – the front wheel, attached to the handlebar for steering, and the rear wheel, equipped with a sprocket mechanism linked to the pedals. This setup allows the bicycle to move forward when the pedals are turned, spinning the sprocket and subsequently the rear wheel.

To enhance the riding experience by ensuring a smoother ride and better road grip, the wheels are furnished with air-filled rubber tires. Keep in mind that safety is paramount; hence, it’s essential to confirm that the wheels are securely fastened and the tires are appropriately inflated before every biking adventure.


Wheels, a fundamental aspect of our daily routines, particularly in relation to transport, are made complete with the addition of tires. These tires, typically made of rubber and filled with compressed air, form the outermost layer of the wheel, thereby making direct contact with the road.

The design of these tires includes patterned surfaces, or treads, which enhance grip and ward off potential skidding on wet or icy surfaces. They not only increase safety but also contribute significantly to the comfort of the ride by absorbing shocks from road irregularities such as bumps and potholes.

It’s therefore crucial to regularly inspect tires for any signs of wear and tear, as neglecting this can lead to accidents due to tire failure.


The intriguing nature of wheels, particularly their rotation, is a fundamental aspect of our daily movement. Rotating around their central axis, or axle, wheels facilitate the motion of various objects, including cars, bicycles, and aircraft.

This rotation is triggered by the application of force, which in turn, spins the wheel, subsequently minimizing friction and enhancing efficiency. Moreover, the rotational motion of wheels drives the turning of gears in numerous machines, ensuring their smooth operation.

Therefore, it’s important to acknowledge that the rotation of a wheel is not just a simple turn but a vital element in our day-to-day locomotion.


Bearings, small circular pieces typically made of steel, are an essential and integral part of wheels that are important for kids to understand. Positioned inside the wheel, their function is to facilitate a smooth and efficient spin on the axle by reducing the friction between the wheel and the axle.

Without the presence of bearings, the wheel would be significantly harder to turn due to increased friction. This crucial component ensures the easy movement of wheels on various items such as bikes, skateboards, and cars.

Therefore, their importance cannot be understated as they significantly contribute to our daily mobility. Without bearings, our everyday travel would be far less simple and efficient.

Wheel Image - Science for Kids All About Wheels
All About Wheels: The first wheels were probably wheels to make pottery. They were invented in Sumeria around 5,500 years ago.

Only humans use wheels, and compared to other inventions, wheels are a fairly recent invention. The first wheels were probably wheels to make pottery. They were invented in Sumeria around 5,500 years ago. Later, people figured out how to use wheels to draw wagons and carriages. Before the wheel, people had to walk everywhere they went or ride on camels or other animals. They pulled or dragged things on sleds.

Gear Image
A wheel with teeth is called a gear.

Fun Facts about Wheels for Kids

  • The back wheel of a bicycle is propelled by cog wheels. The cog wheels and a chain turn the back wheel around. If you change gears, the bicycle wheels turn slower or faster.
  • Wheels on cars, roller skates, baby strollers and other things have axles. An axle is a pole that runs through the wheel. The wheel turns around it.
Wheel and Axle Image
Wheels on cars, roller skates, baby strollers and other things have axles. An axle is a pole that runs through the wheel. The wheel turns around it.
  • A wheel with teeth is called a gear. The teeth are called cogs.
Mountaineer on a Steep Mountain Image
Wheeled vehicles can’t go up very steep mountain

Wheel Vocabulary

  1. Vehicle: a machine used to move people, animals and things
  2. Interlock: fit together
  3. Stroller: a vehicle to carry a baby
  4. Carriage: comfortable vehicle for people
  5. Propelled: moved forward

Learn More All About Wheels: History, Working and Importance

Watch this video clip all about wheels:

A short video about the history of wheels.

Wheel Q&A

Question: Can wheels be used in every situation?

Answer: In some parts of the world, people still walk most places or use animals like donkeys or camels to pack things. Wheeled vehicles can’t go up very steep mountain areas or through desert sand. In many parts of the world, people don’t have access to cars or bikes. They also don’t have the fuel to make cars go.