6 Covered Wagon Activities for Middle School
As part of your pioneer history, take the time to study their journey west, specifically their mode of transportation. You can do this with covered wagon activities. One of the best ways to get middle school kids interested in history is to make it interactive with American history activities like these.
By the mid-1800s the United States was a growing nation that extended from sea to shining sea. Early adventurers explored the new western territories and returned with stories of wide open spaces, fertile farmlands and even gold.
Many families decided to pack-up their belongings and go west. Some were looking for religious freedom, others thought they would strike it rich, and many were looking for land where they could build homes and farms. Their travels were difficult. They didn’t have cars or airplanes like we do today, instead they traveled by foot, horse, and covered wagon.
As your family explores the westward expansion movement across the United States, use these fun projects to bring your learning to life.
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Covered Wagon Activities
Here are a variety of activities you can use to learn more about the American pioneers and the covered wagon.
Build a Covered Wagon Model
Using supplies you can easily find around your house, build your own covered wagon. Use your wagon to create your own stories and adventures and then photograph or record the stories you create. It’s one of the many pioneer crafts teens will enjoy creating.
Draw a Life-Sized Wagon
The body of a covered wagon was about 4 feet wide x 10 feet long. Using those dimensions, draw a chalk outline of a wagon body on your driveway (to be more specific, check out Social Studies Actual Size – they offer blueprints for a Conestoga Wagon and Prairie Schooner).
Then gather supplies from around your home that you think you would need to take with you on your journey (clothes, food, pots & pans, tools, etc.). Then decide how you would fit everything into your wagon. You will probably find that you have to make some difficult decisions and leave a few things behind.
Examine Daily Life in a Covered Wagon
Follow the Larkin family as they pack their wagon and share information about daily Life in a Covered Wagon. Learn about landmarks on the trail, hunting, children’s activities and how they celebrated special days.
Make a Pioneer Meal
What did they eat on the trail? It was difficult to carry a lot of ingredients and keep food fresh, so some food choices were limited. Pancakes were filling and easy, as they only required a few ingredients.
Here are 6 pioneer recipes to make with your teen. Or check out Cooking Up Some American History to make Journey Potatoes, Peach Leather and Hardtack.
Pack Your Covered Wagon
It’s time to pretend like you are about to head off to the wild frontier. This activity will help you make a list of what you will bring with you and lets you check the weight to see if your wagon will hold all of your supplies.
Have tweens make their own lists and compare with each other, while discussing the pros and cons of the items each pioneer chose.
Watch a Video about the Oregon Trail
Learn about the size, shape and type of wagons that carried people thousands of miles and go along on a modern day wagon train trip.
Hopefully through these activities, your middle schooler will realize how difficult the life of an American pioneer was. From the challenge of packing their covered wagon, to traveling across the country in a hard and bumpy wagon, the trip was anything but comfortable.
If you’re looking for a fun way to study the pioneers, use this tool that’s full of pointed questions and hands-on activities.
What fun covered wagon activities are you adding to your history lessons?
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