How to Make a Wigwam Art Project

Written by sarah lipoff
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Native Americans created wigwams as living structures to protect them from the elements and also as a safe and warm place to sleep at night. Wigwams were usually 8 to 10 feet tall and were made using a wood frame and covered with layers of bark and woven mats. Tribes that created the dome-shaped wigwams included the Algonquian, Abnaki and Wampanoag. You can make a model wigwam with tree branches and brown paper to represent bark.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Scissors
  • Garden clippers
  • 8 to 10 thin, pliable tree branches, 12 inches long
  • 10-inch by 12-inch rectangle of plastic foam
  • Marker
  • Ruler
  • Craft glue
  • Green tempera paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Brown construction paper

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Cut 10 thin branches from a tree in your yard or neighbourhood using scissors or garden clippers. Willow branches work well and are very pliable. Trim the leaves off the branches and cut them so each is about 12 inches in length.

  2. 2

    Draw an oval on the piece of plastic foam using a marker. Make the oval long enough so that its ends almost touch the sides of the foam.

  3. 3

    Mark a dot 1 inch away from either side of the centre point of the longest side of the oval. Mark two dots on the opposite side of the oval as well. This is where you will place the doorposts, or main support arches, of the wigwam.

  4. 4

    Press the end of one branch into a marked dot gently and bend it to the corresponding dot on other end of the oval. Parallel the branch with another, using the other two marked dots. Place a drop of glue in the foam at the base of each branch.

  5. 5

    Bend four or five branches from one short side of the oval to the other over the two doorjamb arches to create additional support posts for the domed wigwam. Secure the branches with drops of glue.

  6. 6

    Paint the plastic foam base with green tempera paint to resemble grass. Allow the paint to dry for one hour before continuing to work.

  7. 7

    Cover the outside of the wigwam with cut 1-inch squares of brown construction paper, overlapping them over the support posts and securing in place with glue. Leave an opening at the front of the wigwam for an entrance.

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