Turtles, Snails and Wagons

All Ages

Art and Design

What does it take to design an functional wagon?

avatar Submitted By: Minecraft Education

September 18, 2017


  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking

Learning Objectives

  • Students will identify the purposes and details of the Conestoga covered wagon by creating a draft of one of their own.

Guiding Ideas

Students will look at how pioneers designed and used wagons. They will then create a scientific drawing of their own wagon design.

On this May 22nd 1843, some 1,000 men, women, and children climbed aboard their wagons and steered their horses west out of the small town of Elm Grove, Missouri. The train comprised more than 100 wagons with a herd of 5,000 oxen and cattle trailing behind. Dr. Elijah White, a Presbyterian missionary who had made the trip the year before, served as guide.

Their wagon served not just a method of transportation but their refuge, home, and secure place for the entire family heading West.

Student Activities

Turtles and snails must carry their houses around with them. The travelers along the Oregon trail used wagons to carry everything they needed with them. These wagons had to serve many different purposes. Look at how the pioneers designed and used wagons and then think about what you would do. Create a scientific drawing of a wagon that you would want if you were given the same materials and resources that the pioneers had back then. Make sure your wagon is capable of providing the same purposes as wagons did in the 1800s.

Performance Expectations

  • Compare students' design of Wagons to actual wagons used during the travels along the Oregon Trail
  • What design considerations must students make to build a safe, viable wagon?
  • How will they take into consideration what they've learned about the Oregon Trail thus far to design a wagon?


  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking

External References