This year we are working on American history as we learn about the 50 states. We spent several weeks talking about Jamestown and have begun talking about the Pilgrims and the Plymouth Colony. Whether you are doing a Jamestown unit or are just looking for a Thanksgiving craft, this simple Native American craft: building a wigwam, can help bring history to life.
This simple wigwam craft would be a fun addition to a Native American unit study. You could also do it as a Thanksgiving craft with the kids. Add a few figures and they’ll have hours of fun playing with their creation.
- Thin Cardboard (We used cereal boxes.)
- Brown Construction Paper
- Liquid Craft Glue
- Shallow Dish
Cut 3 cardboard strips that are 1 x 11 inches (2.5 cm x 28 cm). Cut another strip that is 1 x 16 inches (2.5 x 41 cm). (We actually stapled 2 smaller strips together to make ours.)
Form the longest cardboard strip into a circle and staple together. This will be the wigwam’s base. Next, staple the 3 shorter strips to form a dome. (As shown in picture below.)
Have your child rip the brown construction paper into 1 inch thick strips and then tear the strips to form 1 inch “squares.” They don’t have to be perfect, just approximately the same size.
Pour glue into a shallow dish and use the paintbrush to glue the construction paper pieces to the cardboard strips. Allow pieces to overhang the strips. Once the cardboard pieces are covered, allow your project to dry some before continuing.
Once it has dried, it is time to fill in those spaces between the cardboard supports. Glue the construction paper “bark” so it overlaps and begins to fill in those spaces. You may need to let it dry some as you work, depending on how much glue your child uses. Continue the process until the whole thing is covered in brown paper. Allow it to dry.
To make our paper feel more like bark (and to make the structure stronger), we used the paintbrush and covered the entire outside of the wigwam with one more layer of glue. This is the perfect time to patch any remaining holes. Then allow the whole thing to dry overnight.
Once it is dry, it is time to cut your door and a smoke hole at the top. Use the tip of your scissors to slowly and carefully poke a hole at the top. You can wiggle them and turn your scissor blades to make the hole round. (This step is best done by a parent.)
We originally created our wigwams to go with our Jamestown unit. The kids have been having fun using them with our Playmobil Native Americans and reenacting what we have learned about. The Native American craft would also be a great Thanksgiving craft, pairing nicely with learning about the Mayflower and the Plymouth Colony.
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