How To: Make a Kid’s Teepee

Build a backyard teepee with your kids this summer. It's easy and fun and the ideal summer craft project for the whole family.

By Sharon Pierce McCullough | Updated May 18, 2020 4:15 PM

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How to Make a Teepee


A basic teepee is not hard to make, provided you keep it simple and fun, as I discovered when I created this project for ZiggityZoom. After consulting a few websites to understand the basics of construction, I assembled the materials and tools and—in an afternoon’s time—came up with this easy, kid-friendly summer DIY craft project. Want to learn how to make your very own backyard teepee? Just follow the steps below:

MATERIALS AND TOOLS Available on Amazon
Nine 10′ poles (bamboo poles are best; we used 1″ metal conduit)
Canvas painter’s drop cloth (12′ x 15′ heavyduty)
Lightweight cord or rope
Five sticks 9″ long
Two sticks 6″ long
Garden clippers
Permanent colored markers

1. Collect thin, sturdy branches and using garden clippers, cut five branches to 9″ long and two branches to 6″ long. The collecting is a fun activity for kids. If desired, taper the ends slightly by rubbing them on the sidewalk or a piece of sand paper.

2. Lay the canvas drop cloth flat on the grass. Find the center-top of the long end of the cloth and make a mark. Tie a marker onto the end of a string and holding the marker upright at side-top of the cloth’s long end, stretch the string to the center point and cut it. Your string should be 7.5′ long. Hold the string at center point firmly, while a second person makes an arc with the marker to denote the cut line. (The finished cut size equates to the length being twice as long as the width.)

How to Make a Teepee - Assembly


3. Choose a spot for the teepee and set the first three poles in place as your teepee base, crossing the tips of the poles at the top, as if you are making a tripod. Now add two poles between each of the base poles; try to position them sturdily by paying attention to how they cross at the top. Add the last pole to the ‘back side’ of your teepee. Spread the pole bottoms evenly around the ground.

4. If you don’t have someone tall to reach up and place the top-center of the cloth near the cross poles, remove the last pole from the back side and attach the top-center of the cloth about a foot from the top. Since this is temporary, you can just make a ring of duct tape and attach the inside of the cloth to the poles.

5. Pull the sides of the cloth around the poles, overlapping at the top of the teepee’s front. Make two slits to accommodate each 9″ stick, making sure the cuts go through both pieces of overlapped cloth. Slits should be about 3″ to 4″ apart. Weave a stick into the openings and secure the teepee front.

6. To make the teepee opening, fold the side flaps open and make two slits to accommodate the 6″ sticks.

7. Use markers (or paint, if desired) to decorate the outside of your teepee. Let the kids decorate however they want, and show them some American Indian designs as inspiration. This is a perfect time to teach kids some Native American history and the symbolism of Native American designs.

Want more How To? Browse all projects in 30 Days of Easy Summer DIY