Making a Toy Wagon from a Dishwasher Rack

For the child who likes to cart things around, this is a toy wagon decorated to look like a schoolbus. It is thrifty because, you don't need to buy a wagon of any kind to make this. The secret is to employ the bottom rack from an old dishwasher as the rolling cart.


This craft is fun to do with children, especially if you can surrender some of the creative control and let them take the lead. You'll be surprised at some of their fun and helpful ideas. A heat process laminator capable of doing 8.5 inch x 11 inch sheets is helpful to the longevity of the project, but it can also be done with plain cardstock or cardboard.

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  1. Save a dishwasher rack from a dishwasher that is being discarded. Usually the bottom rack is ready with wheels all along two sides, and can be rolled along even surfaces like a little wagon.
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  3. Attach a cord or rope of some kind as a pull.
  4. Decorate panels of cardstock or cardboard to simulate the look of a school bus on all four sides. It may be helpful to find some pictures of school buses to work from. Use markers, crayons, and papers to add details like license plates and lights to the front, stripes to the sides, and "rail road crossing" and "emergency exit" warnings to the back. You can make the results more even if you cut circles of colored paper for the lights, or you can just draw them on, as we have done. For the body of the bus, we used just a little less than 8 full pieces of 8.5 inch x 11 inch yellow card stock. For the bottom of the bus, we used four green 8.5 inch x 11 inch sheets of card stock.
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  6. For windows, cut rectangular holes in the cardstock. If you choose to laminate the panels, the lamination will create glazing. You can also tape plastic or packing tape over the windows for a similar effect if you are not laminating the pieces.
  7. For stop signs, draw octagons on red cardstock and use a white pencil or white chalk to draw the details. Put tabs on each stop sign, and bisect each tab, so that you can fold them in different directions.
  8. Once the panels and pieces are decorated, you may laminate them. Cut out the smaller pieces.
  9. You might want to color the wheels black with paint or a marker, to match school bus tires.
  10. Cut a slit in the front left side panel, and slide one of your stop sign tabs into it. Tape to secure. Fold the other tab flush with the side of the bus, and tape it in place. This construction allows the stop signs to stand out from the side of the bus. Repeat the process for opposite facing stop sign on the the rear of the bus.
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  12. Now we can attach the panels to the outside of the cart. Hold each panel up against the part of the cart where you wish to attach it. Temporarily mark the spots where the cart wires meet the sides of your panels.
  13. Use your single hole punch to make holes in the marked spots. With twist ties or wire ties, attach the panels to the outside of the cart. The panels on the bottom will create a sort of "floor", and help keep smaller toy parts from falling through and dragging.
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  15. This toy wagon works well for transporting dolls or stuffed animals. With its intact dish-holding spikes, it is also well-suited for carrying sandbox toys.

By Kirsten from Logan, UT

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Crafts ToysMay 31, 2013
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