This week, my kids and I are celebrating our pioneer heritage, especially those who traveled across the infant American continent in covered wagons and by foot. To make it more hands on for my little ones, we decided to make a covered wagon! This covered wagon is pretty simple to make. Here’s how we did it.

covered wagon craft for kids

Materials needed to create a Covered Wagon

  • a 1-pint milk carton
  • four wheels. We used some extra spice container lids; you can also use water bottle lids.
  • a small dowel or kabob skewer
  • glue
  • brown paint and/or a brown paper bag to cover the sides of the wagon.
  • three pipe cleaners
  • a piece of fabric (or a brown paper bag)
  • glue
  • stapler
  • a piece of string (optional)


1. Clean and cut the milk carton. We left around an inch to be the edge of the wagon.

 2. Paint the wagon. We ran into a snag when we realized that the cream carton had a wax coating on it. The paint did not want to stick. We decided to cover it in a brown paper bag so it would be easier to paint. My son thought it looked more like wood when it was all brown. 

 3. Attach the wheels and axle. We cut the dowels to be the right size. I used a pin to make a hole in the wagon and we put the dowels through. I glued the wheels to the dowels. I was very determined to make wheels that rolled so I used Super Glue and made sure to keep turning the dowel until the glue on the wheels dried. It’s so much more fun when the wheels move! 

 4. Make the wagon cover. I cut a small piece of fabric and wrapped it around pipe cleaners, stapling the pipe cleaners in place. We then bent the cloth-covered pipe cleaners, trimmed them to be the right size, and stapled those in place onto the sides of the wagon. 

 5. Attach the harness. My son wanted to be able to pull the wagon, so we tied a string to the front axle. 

 6. Find little people, fill the wagon, and travel across the “continent.” We had pirates in our covered wagon. They don’t really look like pioneers, but hey, it’s what we had! 

covered wagon craft for kids
simple covered wagon craft for kids

 We too have driven across the American continent, but it takes a little bit more hands on understanding to recognize what traveling by foot and in a covered wagon from Iowa to Oregon or Utah would entail. 

My son was surprised to learn that most kids did not get to ride in the wagon! Making our own “little people” sized wagon was a lot of fun for us.

 While my older son extended the learning and practiced stocking the wagon with “food” and other necessities (referencing the book If You Traveled West in a Covered Wagon for ideas!), my toddler daughter could simply play with it. 
She now recognizes a covered wagon! For other ways to make a covered wagon, see Elmer’s glue (using a shoe box) or The Crafty Classroom (for an elegant popsicle stick wagon).

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