How to Build a Teepee for a School Project

How to Build a Teepee for a School Project

According to Linda A. Holley, author of "The History and Design of the Cloth Tipi," traditional Native American teepees served as functional living quarters and not artistic displays or tourist attractions. Building a teepee for a school project can help you explore the lifestyle and culture of the Native Americans from 1840 to 1920. You can build a single miniature teepee with simple crafting materials or build several to make a replica of a traditional nomadic Native American camp.

  • 6 to 8 sticks, straws or brown pipe cleaners, 6 to10 inches long
  • Scissors
  • Construction paper
  • Craft foam sheets
  • Brown paper bag
  • Paper plate
  • Cloth
  • Yarn, string , or leather or plastic lacing
  • Markers
  • Glue
  • Hole punch
  • Ruler
  • Compass
  • Plate

1 Construct Base

Lay the sticks, straws or pipe cleaners parallel to one another and line them up by the ends. Wrap the string tightly around each pole in turn a few inches from the top, keep them parallel and close together so that they still touch when laid flat. Gather the poles in a bundle and wrap the free end of the string around the entire bundle and tie it securely. Splay the poles out and adjust them until they balance in a cone-like teepee formation.

2 Select Materials

Select your covering material; you might use options like construction paper, craft foam, brown paper bag, a paper plate or piece of cloth. Measure the distance on the teepee from the base to the point where the poles are tied together. Double that measurement and use a compass or plate to trace a circle with this diameter. If using a paper plate, trim the plate to the desired diameter if necessary.

3 Decorate

If desired, decorate the teepee's cover with Native American designs. Cut a slit to the center point of your chosen cover material with scissors. Next, roll the cover into a cone shape and punch three or four holes with a hole punch along each side where the edges meet. Lace the sides together with yarn, string or leather or plastic lacing and tie. Cut a flap at the lower edge for a door at either side.

4 Completion

If necessary, trim the top of the cone with scissors to fit the poles through the opening. The cover should rest just at the join point without slipping. As needed, adjust the poles to balance the teepee with the cover.

5 Child-Sized Teepee

Constructing a larger child-size teepee can also be made with similar instructions but with larger materials. Instead of using construction paper or a paper plate, you would use a sheet or large piece of fabric for the cover of the teepee. This larger child-size teepee replica can then be used as a potential reading nook or backyard camping option.

Tamara Christine has written more than 900 articles for a variety of clients since 2010. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in applied linguistics and an elementary teaching license. Additionally, she completed a course in digital journalism in 2014. She has more than 10 years experience teaching and gardening.