Authentic Tepees Review

In keeping with reconciliation and linking with the grade 4 curriculum, my students and I looked into traditional Indigenous homes. Quality Classrooms sent us The Kids Book of Aboriginal Peoples to assist with our study. Since we were studying the Anishinaabe people who lived on the plains we decided to take a closer look at the tipis in which they traditionally lived. They also sent 2 Authentic Tepees Craft Kits to review and create our own.

The first thing we did was open the kits and look at our supplies. They included plenty of materials to make the tipis.

One thing we noticed right away was that the included template for the outer covering was not symmetrical and was too big for the dowels provided. We set about to create our own template which fit the dowels and also incorporated the traditional smoke flaps and an opening for the door.

We pre-tied the dowels together with the included string to make assembly easier for the students.

It was then time to glue the dowels to the base. While plenty of glue was included it was difficult to use since it was so runny. We ended up using large blobs of glue and sticking the dowels into the centre of each blob. It needed to dry overnight before we could attach the outer covering. When I repeated this activity a second time I used a glue gun and it worked much better.

In the meanwhile, the students began to work on their outer coverings. They traced the template on the paper provided and carefully cut it out. Next came the designs. We discussed the importance of including Mother Earth and Father Sky at the bottom and top of their tipi and that the animals and people who live on the earth take up the space in the middle. We also looked at symbols they could include such as Turtle Island, the animals of the 7 Sacred Teachings and the Medicine Wheel.

The next day it was time to attach the outer covering. The students had some difficulty with this as the glue did not hold the covering in place. A paper clip would have held the covering together while the glue dried. Instead, we just held it together with our fingers for a few minutes while the glue dried. The glue gun worked much better the second time.

The students were really pleased with their tipis and had a great crafting experience overall.

They even made a village with their completed teepees.

Written by Ange, a teacher in Pembina Trails School Division.

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