Yonder by Tony Johnston
large refrigerator box
craft knife (adult only)
two hollow plastic hula hoops
large hollow blocks
white canvas fabric or a large off-white blanket
several cardboard boxes
several small wooden chests
old pots and pans
pioneer clothes (bonnets, floppy straw hats, cowboy hats, old dresses, old dress
pants, suspenders, and flannel shirts)
several medium-size sticks
1. Read Yonder by Tony Johnston to the children. Talk about the story. Ask
questions such as, “How would you feel if you and your family moved to a
new and strange place?” Encourage the children to tell their own stories
2. Let the children help create a covered wagon. Choose an area in the room to
put the wagon. Once it is assembled, it cannot be moved.
3. Start by removing the top and bottom flaps of a refrigerator box using a
craft knife (adult only). Place the refrigerator box on its side and use the craft
knife to cut several small windows in the two sides. (While this is not
historically accurate, it lets the children see out while maintaining the
strength of the box.)
4. Use a craft knife to cut two plastic hula hoops in half.
5. Use large hollow blocks to build a platform for the refrigerator box. Tape the
blocks together securely so they will not fall over. Place the refrigerator box
on top of the platform.
6. Securely tape the hula hoop halves to the top of the refrigerator box.
7. Drape the white canvas fabric or large blanket over the hoops to create the
covered wagon top. For a more historically accurate look, paste the fabric to
8. Cut out four wheels from the cardboard boxes. Affix the wheels to the sides
of the refrigerator box so they just touch the floor.
9. Use a couple of large blocks to prop the hobbyhorses up in front of the
10. Create a set of reins from the horses to the wagon using the sturdy rope.
11. Put the small wooden chests, wooden crates, old pots and pans, and tin cups
in the wagon. Add pioneer clothes to the dress-up area.
12. Scatter sticks around the room. When the children “stop their wagon for the
night,” they can gather the sticks to make a “campfire.”
13. Let the children use the materials freely during center time.