Sunday, March 24, 2013

Canvas Tipis - grade 6

For the past two years, my homeroom class has been a grade 5/6 class. That means a lot of my grade 6's this year were actually my grade 5's last year. I did this project last year with the grade 6's, and this year, the new grade 6's were so excited to get their chance to do it!

Part of our social studies curriculum for grade six is First Nations Peoples and European Explorers, which is pretty much the best unit possible for art projects. Our first big project, after studying First Nation's habitats, was to make tipis.

I have a go-to tipi template, which can be found here. Students each get a copy of a tipi template, and then we spend some time in the computer lab, where they research First Nations symbols. Students are given about a hour to draw out their plans, focusing on symmetry, placement of symbols and color choice.

Once they have finished their rough draft, they are given piece of thick canvas material (I bought this canvas at an estate sale for probably under a dollar, and it was enough material for two years of tipis!) They tape their paper tipi template to their canvas, and cut it out.

Students then used Sharpie and acrylic paint to recreate their designs onto the canvas. Black Sharpie is used to make the base of their designs, then colored Sharpies are used for the small details. Larger details are filled in using acrylic paint. The paint thickens up the canvas, making it really sturdy - perfect for their tipis!

I had a donation of old binders, which I cut apart and we used for the base of their tipis. On top of the binder, students built a base using bamboo (purchased from the dollar store) and plasticine. Then, they stretched their tipi around the base, and used a hot glue gun to attach it.

Next came the really fun part - decorating their tipis with absolutely anything we could find in the class! Students used anything - paint, shells, rocks, yellow powdered tempera paint, fabric, plasticine, wire, etc. As with last time, this project was a HUGE success!!

They're just so beautiful. I'll be posting soon about our next First Nations project - wampum belts!! Can't wait!


  1. Hi, Aly,
    I found your blog on Artists in Blogland! We're almost neighbors geographically! Well, sort of. Keep up the posting...maybe find more ideas at my site,,

  2. this is so cute! What a talented bunch!


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