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We often leave "construction" out of our curriculum because of constraints of time and space as well as worries about liability and safety. We urge you to rethink these restricting factors. "Building" is a wonderful teacher and will provide your students with indelible memories of their simulated Oregon Trail experience!

Constructions needn't involve saws, hammers and nails (though it is wonderful if they do)! If you teach in a high school, are homeschooling or are lucky enough to have a carpentry class or room/area in your elementary or middle school, you might consider making a scaled or full size wagon. You might also consider the construction of wooden toys or musical instruments.

Most of us don't have access to this kind of facility, but these projects are not beyond our reach... we simply need to improvise on "materials." Straw flutes and cardboard box wagons, for instance, are very satisfying to create.

My classes always constructed family wagons (including making and packing "supplies") for the trip. After researching the actual size of a Prairie Schooner (surprisingly small!) they engaged in creating scaled versions. Models had to be at least 2' x 2' and couldn't be larger than 5' x 5'. The supplies and the wagon itself had to be "handmade." Scraps of fabric, styrofoam, empty thread spools, cardboard and lots of paint and glue were staple items. School provided the paint and glue...and as much cardboard and Styrofoam as was possible...the students brought the rest from home. Their loaded wagons had a place of honor at the front of the classroom for the weeks of the project. The wagons were drawn by origami oxen of the appropriate size! (See Gallery: Scenes from the Journey West, 1994)

Classes have constructed "shoebox" wagons...or wagons from craft patterns. Classes have turned student desks into wagons with strategic use of PVC and fabric! "Campfire" meeting places have been designed and constructed for use in daily Travel and Fate announcements and discussion.

Construction is not for the timid...but we are Pioneers and Scouts...not a timid one amongst us, Pardners! Yeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaa!
wagon wheel
wagon wheel
wagon wheel
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Last Updated: 12/24/12