How to build a longhouse for kids

Tepees were not the only dwellings created by Native Americans. According to the Native American Museum of Art, the Iroquois created groups of longhouses for their communities. In Iroquois tradition, "elder brothers" who lived before there were people and animals on Earth lived in longhouses made from bark with one east-facing door and one west-facing door. Families of the Iroquois slept in 40 to 400-feet-long longhouses, where cooking fires were shared by families. Build a longhouse for kids by printing out templates from various Iroquois longhouse resources.

Print out the longhouse template from websites such as the Native American Museum of Art or Archaeology Education & Illustrations by Susan K. Nelson with a computer printer and printer paper.

Colour the printout with crayons. Children should use greys, light tans and light browns for this project. Paint the coloured paper with brown watercolour paint. This is called frottage, or crayon resist method, and it will make the structure look more realistic. Allow it to dry completely.

Cut out the longhouse template with safety scissors. Be sure to cut out the included tabs on the longhouse template, but do not cut them off. You will need them for gluing.

Fold down the tabs on the template. Glue the walls first to create a rectangular base. Allow it to dry completely.

Glue the roof to the walls of the base. Let it dry, and then glue the entire longhouse onto a piece of cardboard for display.


Add model grass material and model trees to the cardboard base around your longhouse. This will create a more realistic-looking model. Take a field trip to a Native American history museum to learn more about Native American culture and dwellings.


Adult supervision is needed for this craft.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet access
  • Printer
  • 8 1/2-by-11-inch printer paper
  • Crayons
  • Brown watercolour paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Safety scissors
  • 18-inch square cardboard
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About the Author

Charong Chow has been writing professionally since 1995. Her work has appeared in magazines such as "Zing" and "Ocean Drive." Chow graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. She also received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts.