The school where I teach runs American Girl camps in the summer. The history teacher in charge of AG camp is pregnant and had to go on bedrest at the end of the school year, so the school needed last minute subs to run the two camp sessions. Clearly, I am totally qualified to run this camp, but I was hesitant to accept the job. I immediately had visions of American Girl crafts run amok since I tend to think big and have difficulty prioritizing and gauging what is realistically possible for little hands. 20+ campers and overly complicated mini craft projects are not always a good combination. Nevertheless, I took on the challenge, and we just finished the last day of American Girl camp today.
I recycled many of my American Girl craft projects, but I also designed some new ones too. This past Monday was Kaya Day. With the help of my nieces who are still staying with me, we engineered tepees out of brown butcher paper, strung Nez Perce-like beaded necklaces, and wove mats for the tepee.
- brown butcher paper (I used painter’s floor covering paper from Lowe’s)
- wooden dowels– 1/4″ diameter, 24″ length (4-5 per tepee)
- duct tape or masking tape
- mini hair bands or Rainbow Loom bands
- My oldest niece has the original Kaya tent. She traced the outline of the cloth tepee cover for me to use as a template. The tepee shape is basically a half circle. The diameter is 48″ with a small circle cut out at the center of the straight edge.
- Using the template, we traced the shape onto the brown butcher paper and then cut out the shape.
- I added Native American looking patterns and symbols. I cut geometric shapes out of poster board for the campers to use as templates for designs on the paper.
- I also shared a handout with some Native American symbols.
- After decorating, turn the tepee paper over and tape 4-5 dowels to the paper. Space the dowels evenly around the tepee shape, and the bottom of the dowel needs to be even with the bottom edge of the tepee.
- Fold the paper in half and stand up. Pinch the first and third dowel together and wrap a rubber band around the top of the dowels. Pull the rest of the dowels together to make them look like the poles at the top of the tepee. Add another rubber band around all of the dowels. (We also wrapped some twine around the top to make it look more authentic).
- Spread the part of the dowels that touch the floor out and fiddle with the paper to get the desired tepee shape.
- waxed cotton thread
- plastic beads– various shapes (perler beads work well too)
- lanyard clips (2 per necklace)
- Cut 3 pieces of cotton thread in 3 different sizes– 14″, 13″, and 12″.
- Line up the 3 pieces of thread so the ends are even. Keeping the ends even with each other on one side, tie a “granny knot” around the lanyard clip.
- Thread beads onto all 3 pieces of string. You can create any bead order and partially fill the string or fill the string full with beads. Leave space at the end to make it easy to tie the threads into a knot.
- After adding beads, gather the loose ends of the strings and even them up. Tie them in a knot to a second clip making sure the ends are even with each other.
- When the necklace is on the doll, the strings will hang at 3 different lengths in a similar way to the quill necklaces worn by the Nez Perce Indians.
- scrapbook paper
- glue dots
- Cut scrapbook paper into the mat size you would like. Our mats were 5″ x 5″.
- Fold the mats in half with the design facing in.
- On one side of the folded paper, draw guidelines for cutting. The lines begin at the folded end of the paper and stop about 1/2″ from the opposite edge (the open side of the folded paper). My lines are 1/2″ apart. You can adjust based on the mat size you use.
- The campers made cuts along the lines being careful to stop when the line stopped. Then, kids opened up the paper flat and weaved strips of scrap paper over and under securing each end with a glue dot. My strips are about 1/2″ wide, and I used a paper cutter to make all of the strips.
- The mats fit neatly inside the tepee, and if our American Girl doll had been living with Kaya in the mid 1700s, the mat would have helped keep rain out of the tepee.
For more DIY American Girl ideas, visit my other AG posts or check out my Crafts link in the menu bar to the right!
American Girl Campout **includes directions for the campfire