A fun way to help elementary school kids learn more about history is to combine their lessons with craft projects. This can definitely work for a lesson in U.S. history if you are teaching about the pioneers' trek across the country in covered wagons. Rather than having the students sit and read dry accounts of the long, arduous journey, they can enhance their lesson by creating a covered wagon with wooden craft sticks.
Set up your work station. Place a piece of waxed paper flat in front of you so you can work with the sticks and glue without ruining the tabletop. Make sure your wooden craft sticks, glue and cardboard are easily accessible.
Create the bottom of the wagon. Lay four wooden craft sticks next to each other lengthwise then glue their sides together for the bottom of the wagon. Lay two sets of three wooden craft sticks together lengthwise and glue their sides together for the long sides of the wagon. Cut six wooden craft sticks so each is the length of the shorter sides of the wagon. Lay two sets of those three wooden craft sticks together lengthwise for the short sides of the wagon. The wagon bottom needs 16 sticks. Set all these aside to dry.
Make the top of the wagon. Cut two strips of cardboard about 1 inch wide and 6 inches long. This will be the backbone for your rounded wagon top. Lay six wooden craft sticks in front of you, side by side lengthwise, with the strips of cardboard across them about 1 inch in from either end. Add one more wooden craft sticks on each side so you have only a 1 inch tab of cardboard sticking out on each side. The top takes eight sticks. Glue the sticks to the cardboard but not to each other. Set aside to dry.
Create the wheels. Cut the cardboard into four round shapes about three inches in diameter for the wheels. Lay six wooden craft sticks flat, side by side, under each round piece and glue the sticks to each other and to the cardboard. Set aside to dry. The four wheels use five sticks each, for a total of 20 sticks.
Glue it all together. After the pieces are dry, put the wagon together. Use snips to cut the wooden craft sticks that are sticking out beyond the cardboard wheels so you end up with round wooden craft stick shapes. Glue the sides of the wagon to the bottom of the wagon. Gently bend the top of the wagon and glue the tabs to the insides of the long sides of the wagon. Glue your four wheels onto the sides of the wagon. To help keep your wooden craft sticks in place, you can use small, bent cardboard strips as anchors between the wagon walls and the bottom. Allow to dry.
Wooden craft sticks, Aleene's Original Tacky Glue and other supplies are available at craft stores or online (see Resources). You can substitute a different brand of craft glue as long as it's thick and tacky. Once your wagon's glue is dry, you may need to add extra glue between any gaps to further secure your wooden craft sticks. Use masking tape to help keep the wagon pieces in place until they dry. Remove the tape once the glue has set. Colour your wagon with acrylic paints or paint markers once it's fully dried.