Geography covered wagons, or how to freak out your husband


So, my kids were incredibly curious about Colorado after their cousins came down, so what else could we do, but learn about it?   I went to the library and searched out some books, and found some fun ones, some not so great ones, and some just plain weird ones.  And then I found this one:

The only problem?  It’s really about a family going to California, eventually.  But, you could pretty much use it for any state on the Oregon Trail, because it does a fair job of covering what the pioneers went through as they traveled West.  And it had a nice rhythm to the poem.  Not perfect, but good.

Well, my plan after reading this was to make a covered wagon.  We ended up not making a Conestoga covered wagon, but just a plain old ordinary wagon.

Supplies: egg carton, acrylic paint (probably could use poster), straws, bamboo skewers, plastic lids (you really need bigger than milk, but that’s what I had a lot of)

And this is vaguely inspired by this project at Mama Jenn.

1.  Cut off the bottom half of your egg carton, save this for another project someday.  Cut the top in half, I cut it right after the little bump in the middle.

2.  Let your kids have fun painting the carton.

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3.  Put the two halves on top of each other, and here’s two different ways you can do this.  First way:
A.  Poke hole straight across with a skewer.  Use a steak knife to enlarge the hole enough for the straw to fit through.
B.  Slide straw through the holes in the sides.  Then slide the skewer through.
Other way:
A.  Cut straws to size of carton.  Glue the two carton halves together (or use a brad.
B.  Tape the straws to the bottom with some packing tape.  Slide skewer through the straw.

3b.  Call your husband and ask where the drill is.  Make him very nervous as he answers, and just give cryptic explanations.  Very cryptic.

4.  Roughly in the middle of the lid drill a hole in the lid with the largest drill bit you have.  For me, it still wasn’t super large, but this worked out okay.

5.  Now, take the skewer back out of the straw as you realize you need to put the lid on from the pointed end of the skewer.  Then slide it back through.

6.  Put your other milk cap on the other side of the wagon.

Now, at this point you’ll notice the lids don’t actually reach the floor if you’re using milk bottle caps.  Hence, the second construction technique.

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And then your boys will notice they can use the skewers to hold pancakes.  And they will be quite pleased with themselves, and noisily devour said pancakes.

7.  Now for safety sake, and to keep your boys from using these as weapons.  Score the skewer with your scissors.  Then break off the pointy tips.  No need for another ER trip…….

And, you may have better scissors than me, but mine didn’t cut all the way through, it just made it so it cut a clean line through.

Now be amused as the wagons are used to storm the castle.

And head on over to Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn to see other great geography ideas (and a guest post from me sometime this week).

8 thoughts on “Geography covered wagons, or how to freak out your husband

  1. This is a pretty advanced project – I bet the kids enjoyed their wagons. The books looks like fun too. We read “Going West” from My First Little House book, and Anna was very confused as to why they went when they had such a nice life. Obviously one day we have to read a lot more about how West was settled.

  2. Great idea to make the wagons! I vaguely remember someone making a conestoga wagon out of bread and other ingredients for a muffin tin monday once.

  3. I'm not “allowed” to use the power tools, so I usually just hammer a nail through the middle of caps, to make holes. My husband gets nervous enough when I call looking for the hammer, and the largest nails he has in the shop 🙂 Love the pancake idea!

  4. Very cool project! You know, I just had a flashback to when I was a kid and we used to play a game on the computer at school called The Oregon Trail. I remember that the characters would die from snake bites and things like that. Wow, memory lane.

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