Making a Wigwam for a School Project

29 Nov

This may not seem like one of my normal DIY projects but it’s still a fun and creative one so I thought you might want to see it.  For any parents out there, flag this post because your day will come too! Lucky you — I’m here to show you how we did it. Come inside and warm yourself by the fire!

Sophia’s 2nd grade class is studying Native Americans this month and her assignment was to build a replica of the shelter that the Shawnee tribe lived in. The only stipulation was that she should use as many natural materials as possible. We used this website as a guide.

We started by tracing a tray to make a big circle onto an old corkboard that I found in our garage. Then we measured around the circle and marked off where our holes should go. Next, we drilled small holes into the board to anchor the sticks but we made sure not to drill all the way through. (Truth be told, we staged this photo. No, I do not let my kid handle power tools by herself. Or maybe I’m just telling you that so my mother doesn’t freak out when she sees this photo. Whatever you want to believe is fine with me!)

We gathered lots of sticks from the yard (there were plenty from Sandy) and we tied pairs together to make the frame.

It took some time to find the right sticks (without them breaking) and get them glued into the holes but we were excited that our frame was coming together just like an authentic wigwam.

In lieu of bark or woven mats, we used brown bags to make a cover for the wigwam. First we cut them into strips.

Then we cut fringe onto each strip…

…and slowly added each row of fringe to the frame. If we had better glue, I would have used that but instead we took the easy road and used tape!

We built the layers up and then took a little time to add a rock-lined walkway and a stone hearth in the center. Sophia was great at coming up with ideas, like using red and orange construction paper to build the fire.

We dressed one of her Polly Pockets in a brown bag dress and propped her up by the door. (I had to promise Sophia that we’d be able to peel the glue off her feet after she gets the project back!)

To add a little more personality to it, we added Sophia’s name spelled out in left over tree branches.

It was a lot of work but Sophia and I had a great time building it together. She was so proud of the finished product and I’m so proud of how hard she worked on it.


Sue at Home


9 Responses to “Making a Wigwam for a School Project”

  1. Papa November 29, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    WOW!!! You guys did a great job

    • Emma Evans December 12, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

      Hey guys! I want to thank you for sharing this information with us. I’m getting ready to build a Shawnee wigwam with my son. I’ve printed your instructions and I will follow them to the T. I hope our wigwam comes out and cute as yours.
      Thank you again!

  2. Christina November 5, 2018 at 2:33 pm #

    Nothing helps kids better understand something than to be able to do it in a hands on lesson like this.

    I love how your wigwam turned out! I’ve linked to your post in our paper wigwam craft.


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