How to make a teepee for kids

Searching for a kids teepee will result in a large variety of measures, colors and patterns. Although they are usually custom-made, those styles might not fit your preferences, your budget or you might be more enthusiastic to make a teepee together with your kid. Below you will find a list of materials and the steps you should follow when making your own kids teepee.

What you will need:

- 6 poles about 6 ft long
- 3 yards of cotton canvas or duck fabric about 60 inches wide
- 3 strong rubber bands
- 6 plastic 1 ½ inch rings
- Embroidery floss or strong thread
- 12 large grommets and grommet installation kit
- 3 yards ribbon
- Craft paint and brushes
- Scissors
- Marker

What to do:

1. The first step is to create the frame of the teepee. Bind all six poles together to make the base of the teepee by wrapping them tightly around with a rubber band and leaving about 10 centimeters (4 inches) at the top. Next, spread the poles evenly to form a circle on the ground, large enough for the teepee to be stable.

Teepee structure

Teepee structure

Note: It is recommended to use poles made out of plastic or bamboo, which are the lightest and the safest option. You shouldn’t use wooden or metal poles for a kids teepee for they are to heavy and your child has probably a lot of energy. He will crawl in and out and poles could fall on him while moving. Also, wooden poles might snap, splinter or break, while those made from metal might rust.

2. The second step is to prepare the fabric for your teepee. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise to form a square just like in the picture below (see section A). Next fold it again along the square diagonal to form a triangle (see section B) and draw with a marker two rounded cutting guides, a small one at the tip of the triangle and a larger one at the base of the triangle (see section C). Now cut the folded canvas with care and put away the extra fabric. The unfolded fabric should be a semi circle with a U-shape hole at the center of the straight edge (see section D).

Preparing the fabric Preparing the fabric

Next mark with a pen the points where the grommet will be installed. Start at 1 inch from the side edge of the canvas and 1 inch down from the edge of the U-shape hole in the center of the canvas and mark 6 points spaced about 2 inches apart. Do the same on the other side edge of the canvas like in the picture above (see section D). After cutting out small circles on the previously marked points, set the grommets according to the instructions provided in the grommets installation kit.

3. Use paint and brushes to decorate the fabric in the most creative ways. Now is the perfect time to involve your kid. He will be thrilled to express himself through this art work. Wait for the paint to dry, before attaching it to the wrapped poles. Also, if you will use tempera for painting the canvas, you should know that it will only survive a couple of rains.

Painting the fabric Painting the fabric

Note: Since any mother is usually concerned about cleaning, my advice would be to use fabrics made from cotton. A teepee must be washable or at least spot clean.

4. Tie together the two sides of the canvas by lacing a ribbon through the grommets like in the image below.

Ribbon lacing Ribbon lacing

5. Drape the teepee frame by slipping the cut fabric over the poles. The tied ends of the poles should slip through the U-shaped hole at the top. Stand it up and spread out the sticks so that they stay up. Make sure that they will sit evenly on the ground to form the teepee.

6. To keep the fabric attached to the poles and to keep the poles spread evenly, use circles or ribbon laces. Measure 8 inches from the bottom of the canvas at each pole and mark the places on the fabric where it will be attached to the poles. Now take down the fabric and sew either plastic rings or ribbon laces on the marked places.

7. Put back the fabric on the standing teepee structure and make sure the fabric is attached on every pole. Your teepee should look like in the image below.

The final teepee The final teepee

8. Use some cushions to make your kid’s teepee more comfortable and warm for playing or night sleepover.  Some other options would be to personalize the teepee you have just made by writing the name of your little one on it. He will love it. Also, a cut away window in a wall if possible, will allow your children to have more fun or to take a peek at you.

Inspired by the conical tent made of animal skins and wooden poles used by Native American nomadic tribes, a kids teepee is a world of imaginary play for your child. It’s a little place of his own. So, involve him in making his tent and do it together.

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  1. [...] such as Freecycle and Freegle if someone is giving one away. Alternatively you could make your own Kids Teepee (external link) has instructions on how to construct your own [...]

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