covered wagon


You know how just when you think that you have your child pegged, they turn around and humble you.

Smootch, she's this girl, you see.  I think I know her.  She likes pink and princesses and Hannah Bloody Montana and poofy dresses and chocolate mint ice cream and covered wagons.

Covered wagons?

No, I didn't see it coming either.

Apparently a covered wagon, a pioneer style wooden wheeled box with a tarp over top, is like rock star to Smootch.  It's almost embarrassing.  Last week we went to Fort Edmonton (a home schooler's field trip, actually, but that's another story).  Fort Edmonton recreates, among other eras, the settlement time and had an actual covered wagon on display.  When Smootch caught sight of the wagon she squealed like she'd won a lifetime supply of Slurpees and ran, nay, sprinted to the wagon.  Then there was leaping up and down, screaming, 'Covered wagon!  Covered wagon!  Coverrrred Waaaagoonnnn!'  Her enthusiastic was so over the top and, let's face it, odd, that I know the other parents were thinking that she had cookies and coffee for breakfast.  It's sorta bizarre, folks.

But she is serious.  She loves covered wagons.  She also likes RVs, so maybe there's a connection there.  Or maybe being five years old is just a really weird age.

I did know, previous to the Fort Edmonton scene, that Smootch was into covered wagons.  My main hint is that she keeps making them.  I have covered wagons made from grass, sticks, lego, paper, and dirty laundry.  Ask her what she wants to make for a craft, well, you can probably predict her answer.

Just in case, perhaps, you have someone in your household who is harbouring a burning desire to make a covered wagon, Smootch has agreed to let me share her semi-durable paper covered-wagon-with-wheels-that-actually-turn for play model.  Here's how:

You will need stiff-ish paper (cardstock is best, but quality construction paper does in a pinch), tissue paper, cardboard, and two bamboo skewers.  Also a ruler, pen, scissors, scotch tape and glue.

Start with making the wagon box with the stiff-ish paper.  Use your ruler and pen to make the box bottom and sides on the paper.  The illustration below shows how to draw a two dimensional shape that can be folded up into a open topped box.  Black line shows the paper edge and red lines are to be drawn in.

Once drawn, take your scissors and cut along the lines shown in blue (below).  Discard the portion shaded grey.
Fold along the lines indicated in red, creating a box shape.  The yellow shaded areas are the flaps that will be folded and glued to the sides to hold the box together.  This is your wagon box. 


Using some more stiff-ish paper, cut strips length ways to serve as the bows. Use scotch tape or glue to secure the ends of the bows to the inside of the wagon box. Smootch was sorely disappointed with her wagon that the front and back bows did not tilt outwards from the wagon, schooner-esque. Next time, she has vowed, she'll get it right.


Before you cover your wagon, the wheels need to go on. The wheels themselves are cut from a thicker cardboard (circle drawn using a bowl as a guide and cut out with a utility knife). Mark the center of each circle and punch a hole through with a bamboo skewer.

Holes also need to be made in the wagon box to allow the wheel axles through. We used a bit of tape to strengthen the area, and then pushed through the skewer along the bottom corner of the box.


With the skewer all the way though the box, push the wheels onto either end.


Trim the skewer to just longer than the wheel. A drop of glue where the wheel meets the axle (skewer) will help the wheels stay in place.


Tissue paper goes over top the bows and secured with glue.  Trim off any hang-y over bits.


Now, once you have your wagon ready to roll, you can make yourself a couple of pioneers to ride. Smootch suggests naming them Mary and Laura.


For pioneers, the journey west in their covered wagons had many perils. Keep your eyes open and watch for sudden toddler attacks.


Eventually you will find a likely looking bit of prairie to make a go at homesteading.


Happy trails :)


R Montalban said...

what a fantastic wagon it is just great. Thanks for showing how to make it too, I am very impressed.

Jennifer said...

That's too cool. 5 year olds are definitely odd creatures, but they're so fun.

mlandry said...

That is just incredible! Talented little lady you have there!!!

HoustonCrafter said...

That is awesome! Feb we have the Salt Grass trail ride with covered wagons and horses that lead the start to our rodeo season. All the kids love it, but I always assumed it was for the horses. Now I will have to look and see if some of it is for the covered wagons:-)

Katherine said...

I was, possibly still am, ridiculously obsessed with covered wagons too! (And SUN BONNETS!) Laura is my role model. I love the pioneer shoes.

frantically heidi said...

Covered wagons are far more interesting than Hannah Montana. How great that Smooch is willing to give herself over to her passions, even if they go against the tide. I know she is only five, maybe the tide is not that strong yet, but I have a feeling that you are raising a girl who knows herself and will lead, not follow.
My daughter is a nine year old self proclaimed tom-boy that prefers dresses when it's hot out, loves mud and her pocket knife, going to the opera, vikings, animals of all kinds, but especially newts and puppies. She loves to read anything from Junie B. Jones to Charles Dickens (even though she admits she doesn't understand much of what he says.) She is independent, wanting to walk to the park or a friend's house alone, but still slips her hand into mine when we walk together.
She loves to listen to Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Elvis, Johnny Cash, the Black Eyed Peas and Beethoven.
I love discovering all of the creative variances in her personality. I think you'll have a similar journey with Smooch.

sproutingflowers said...

Laura Ingalls was my childhood hero! I recently saw a real (as in, from the actual time, not a recreation) covered wagon at a museum and was ecstatic. Of course, like a "normal" adult, I held in my squeels of delight and simply smiled broadly. Growing up isn't quite as much fun, is it?

Tiffany said...

She's brilliant, just like her mama!

Kylie's Mom said...

Love the wagon! Loathe Fort Edmonton. I have an 11 year old that could live there if I would let her...she's partial to covered wagons as well.

parasombra said...

That is one cool wagon. I must read those books one day!

One thing I realise now that I am a few days away from being the parent of a 17 year old is this: I love my children but I will never ***really know*** them. Every day one or other of them will think, say or do something I couldn't have predicted. They grow and they change and all I can do is watch and love them.

Vegbee said...

Everyone: thank you!

Katherine: really? Is it the romantic imagery of the prairie schooner sailing on the sea of grass?

Kylie's Mom: she could want to live at West Ed. Then you'd be in real trouble :)

Parasombra: at any age, they are fond of reminding us they do not belong to us. They are creating themselves. Best to get a bowl of popcorn and enjoy the show :)

Endrina said...

Wow, you have such a creative and lovely daughter! Loving the wagon:)

Bri Bee said...

Wow she made that?! That is awesome! If you should find yourself looking for a gift for her look here http://www.etsy.com/listing/44557245/matryoshka-caravan-wagon-w-horse-and
I was looking on etsy and I thought they were really cute. Maybe slightly juvenile for her tho. I don't know?

Spider said...

Covered Wagons are awesome though! I dug them when I was a kid too.

Hi, I'm Hannah. said...

Hahaha, I'm just imagining the scene at the Fort Edmonton. She is so great...seriously!

lalheg said...

What a wonderful girl. I love the shot of her concentrating so hard with the scissors and am delighted that she is using real scissors. A pet peeve of mine - child safety scissors that are worse than useless! DD aways cut things much better with real scissors - less time, less effort and safely as she was taught how to use them. Glad to see that you've done the same

elvina said...

Fabulous idea!!!

Emma said...

Hi there, just added a link to this post from my new blog. Thanks for the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Using the idea with my fifth graders. Kudos to the little one!