Wigwam turned Fort – a homeschool project

Before we left my parents house in May (three days before our flight to China), we decided it would be fun to build a wigwam. We had the plan already, but we weren’t really sure the amount of materials we would need. We could have used any type of wood, but cane is abundant near my parents, so that was the wood of choice for us. We cut cane and loaded into the back of my dad’s truck. 

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The kids had a blast cutting loading and playing with the long cane. I wasn’t sure if we would ever get the wigwam started because the girls were having cane wars. (Think Star Wars light sabers, only 15 to 20 feet long.) I think pole vaulting was attempted as well, but we all decided that freshly cut cane is a little too rough on the hands.

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It seems David may have thought we were planting cane.

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We chose 11 sturdy poles and cut them down to about 5 feet long. Cutting live cane is easier than I thought it would be. David’s job was to saw the cane. It probably would have been easier if the saw blade would have cooperated and stayed on the handle. We dug shallow holes into the ground and stood the poles in them. The kids filled in with dirt and pack it tight. The vertical poles would be our “foundation” in a manner of speaking.

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We then wove the thinner stalks of cane in and out of the circle. Through lots of trial and error we finally discovered that the small branches and leaves could be twisted and used to anchor the cane together. We also discovered that our arms only reached so far. The girls spread out and held our vertical poles while David and I tried to bend the unwilling cane into position. The higher the walls, the easier the job became.

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We underestimated the amount of cane needed for the sides. The bottom layers took the majority of our cane and by the time we figured out how to weave it and attach the layers, we were out of material. We could have gone for another load of cane and finished off the sides and the top, but we decided that maybe making a small fort was a better idea.

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A view from the inside:

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The “finished” product:

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We had fun. Charis and Torie agreed that we wouldn’t have made it on the Indian wigwam building team. They both said we worked to slow and there were too many holes that would let in the cold and the rain. I think we probably played a lot more than the Indian team, too, but we really had a great time.

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