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.
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.
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 :)