This literacy/history project can be done at any time of the year. However, it's a great one to do as things are drawing to a close.
The three downloads will provide you with just about everything you need to get started.
This short guide will explain the literacy piece and the creation of the actual covered wagon. (Each wagon is made from a 9" x 12" piece of regular cardboard.) You'll also find suggestions for how to decorate the "wagon trail" you'll being using for the races.
The appendix found at the back of the eBook contains seven blackline masters:
Cassie's Journey text
Since this book is now out-of-print, I've made a PDF version of it for classroom reproduction. The xeroxed copy is actually better than the book itself because your students will be able to mark-up the text, highlight vocabulary words, make margin entries and notes, etc.
The first race in the movie came from the initial round of racing in which two students compete to see which wagon will move on to the next round. It was held in the auditorium with just my students, a part-time classroom aide, and the principal in attendance.
The second race took place two days later when the field had been reduced to just the two students who were attempting to be crowned Wagon Master. Several other classrooms were invited to watch--word gets out and students beg me to invite their teachers to attend--and the energy was pretty incredible. I still get a big smile whenever I see that year's winner cross the finish line.