It was going to be another school project to stress about, another one to agonize over – a year in advance. When I saw the covered wagons being pulled by children in bonnets, aprons and overalls last year for the annual third-grade Chisholm Elementary School Land Run in Edmond, I began to worry way before the event about how I could pull something like that off when my first child hit third grade this year
I shouldn’t have worried. The entire production from start to finish was a ball (see related story here), and, as it turned out, building a covered wagon was not as intimidating as it seemed. Making the project even easier was that teachers divided their classes into “families” of four students who would run the Land Run together, and each of those families needed to produce one wagon, not each student.
We ended up with two because two of us had wagons and both of our students were excited about creating one. Each of them was different; anyone could use either approach to create a covered wagon, although the one from my son and me was a little puny compared to the outstanding one that his friend’s family built. That one could hold three children at least. Ours, more like a small family dog. On the other hand, the puny one was easier to pull, so its drivers found the claim to stake before the big one could get there.
First the large one: The Taylor family had a big metal cart used for extensive gardening to pull flowers around a yard while planting. We took chicken wire and shaped it in the shape of the covered wagon and cut up two hula hoops to frame the chicken wire and make it more sturdy. Plastic ties connected the hula hoops to the chicken wire, the chicken wire to the cart and the sheet to the chicken wire. The sheets, dyed in black tea to make them look more rustic instead of crisp white, were then arranged over the chicken wire/hula hoop frame to look like a wagon.
In that cart went blankets for the picnic lunch, sack lunches and bottled water and the claim stake that the kids painted with their family name on it. The familiy of four third graders on their own avoided discussion about who would be the wife and husband and the kids by calling themselves the “Oakley Orphans,” which accidentally became the “Okley Orphans” when the “a” was left off of the painted sheets covering the wagon.
Our puny wagon started with PVC pipe – I can’t remember which size, but it was probably around an inch in diameter or less. It was bendable, thanks to a strong dad who worked out regularly. He bent the pipe and fit it into the top of the Radio Flyer red wagon. I used Gorilla duct tape to secure it to the wagon (see the Land Run slide show linked on this page). Voila! That was it, except for the sheet that needed to be draped and arranged around the pipes.
Now I have a wagon ready for my next two children, and all of my concern about how to be a part of the Land Run is behind me.
I’m also thankful to the mom who loaned my son her son’s overalls and Western shirt for the occasion. Next year, I know to ask a mom in the class ahead if I can borrow a costume for my daughter. And now I’m confident enough in my Land Run abilities that I will even be able to make cute lunches in old-fashioned tin cans wrapped in bandanas like one forward-thinking (or backward-in-time-thinking?) family did this year.
Here is the slideshow of photos from the day.
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman (email@example.com)