How to Make a Conestoga Wagon for a School Project

    by A. Elizabeth Freeman

    About the Author

    Based in Pennsylvania, A. Elizabeth Freeman has been writing professionally since 2007, when she started writing theater reviews for and Theater Talk's New Theater Corps blog. Since then, she has written for Phillyist, TheNest, ModernMom and "Rhode Island Home and Design" magazine, among others. Freeman has an Master of Fine Arts in dramaturgy/theater criticism from CUNY/Brooklyn College.


    Conestoga wagons first appeared in Pennsylvania in the 18th Century, initially transporting goods across rough terrain. Later, in the 19th century, pioneers traveled across the prairies in the wagons. Conestoga wagons are easily recognizable because they have a white cloth roof, large boxy frame and were pulled by horses. Schoolchildren studying the pioneer days can easily make a Conestoga wagon using inexpensive craft supplies.

    Things You'll Need

    • 1 small box
    • Brown construction paper
    • Scissors
    • Craft glue
    • Markers
    • 1/2 yard of White or ivory muslin
    • 5 pipe cleaners
    • Stapler and staples
    • Hand sewing needle (optional)
    • White thread (optional)
    • Small piece of cardboard
    • Drinking glass

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    Cover the shoe box with the construction paper. Have an adult cut the paper to fit the four sides of the box. Draw lines across the paper so that it resembles wooden planks. Glue the paper to the box sides. Allow it to dry for an hour or two. Alternatively, glue the paper to the box and then glue wooden craft sticks over top to make the wooden planks.

    Attach one end of a pipe cleaner to one side of the box using a staple. Attach the end of the other four pipe cleaners to the same side, so that they form a row. Bend the pipe cleaners over, so that they form an upside down "U" and reach the other side of the box. Make sure that they are even and staple them in place.

    Drape the muslin over the pipe cleaners. Make sure it reaches to the top edge of the long sides of the box, then trim off any excess. Have an adult hand sew the muslin to the pipe cleaners. The stitches should be in the top center of the muslin and on either side. You can also glue the muslin to the pipe cleaners. Coat the pipe cleaners with a layer of glue and then press the muslin over top. Allow to dry for an hour or two. Trim off the excess muslin that hangs from the front and back (short sides) of the wagon.

    Use the drinking glass as a template and trace four circles in the shoe box lid or on the small piece of cardboard. An adult should cut out the circles. Glue two circles to each long side of the wagon. Layer the glue on the top half of each circle, then press onto the box. The bottom edge of the box should be in the center of each circle. Repeat using the two remaining circles on the other side of the box. Allow the glue to dry for an hour.

    • To make the wagon wheels look more realistic, draw spokes on each one and cut out in between.