Carousel Activity

Make Your Own Carousel Animal

Have you ever taken a ride on the carousel at the Santa Monica Pier? Lit by 1,100 electric lights, the carousel plays organ music and carries riders on 44 hand-carved horses, 2 sleighs, 1 rabbit, 1 goat and 1 chariot with wheelchair access. Created by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company in 1922, it is the third carousel installed inside the Looff Hippodrome.

The oldest building on the Pier, the Looff Hippodrome is a Santa Monica Landmark and a National Historic Landmark. The Hippodrome is named after a stadium for horse races in ancient Greece. It opened in 1917 and was built by Charles Looff, a carousel manufacturer. Its architectural styles are a whimsical blend of Byzantine arches, Spanish Colonial turrets, and Moorish windows.

People used to live in apartments on the second floor above the carousel. Now the City of Santa Monica and the Pier Restoration Corporation have offices there. The National Carousel Association works to keep Americaโ€™s remaining carousels in operation by participating in their restoration and preservation.

For this activity, youโ€™ll need: markers or colored pencils, scissors, tape and a box, paper cup or some playdough for a base. You can also add embellishments with stamps, stickers, pom poms or decorative tape.


  1. Draw your carousel animal or print a free template of a horse, tiger, rabbit or reindeer.
  2. Color and cut out your carousel animal.
  3. Tape the carousel animal to the center of the straw or pencil.
  4. Secure your straw or pencil to a base. You can poke it through a playdough cube, paper cup or box.
  5. Add embellishments like stickers, stamps and more!

To accompany this activity, check out A Ride to Remember: A Civil Rights Story by Sharon Langley and Art of the Carousel by Charlotte Dinger. Both books are available at the Santa Monica Public Library.

This activity was produced by Sherrill Kushner and adapted from Art Camp LA.