Building a Wigwam

Filed Under (Arts, Social Studies) by on February 23, 2011 and tagged , ,

last week we finished up our social studies projects about the Native Americans of Connecticut. One of the projects was making the frame of a miniature wigwam, which was their type of housing. We tried to follow the steps that the Pequots, Narragansetts, and Niantics might have used.

a "Wigwam" or "Wetu"

a "Wigwam" or "Wetu"

Here is a sped-up video of some of us making the frame.

The background music is us singing “Land of The Silver Birch.” We recorded this song in music class with the marvelous Ms. Young.

Here are the lyrics of the song, if you want to learn it with us:

Land of the silver birch,
Home of the beaver
Where still the mighty moose
Wanders at will

Blue lake and rocky shore,
I will return once more
Boom de de boom boom, Boom de de boom boom, Boom de de boom boom, Boom boom.

Down in the forest,
deep in the lowlands,
my heart cries out for thee
hills of the north


High on a rocky ledge,
I’ll build my wigwam
Close to the water’s edge,
Silent and still



To learn more about wigwams and how they were built, visit our Wigwam Wiki Page.


What were the Native houses like in your area?

Do you know any facts about wigwams that you can share?

Do you have any questions about the song?

24 Responses to “Building a Wigwam”

  1.   Mrs McKenzie and class B4 Says:

    Dear Mr Salsich and Grade 3
    I found it fascinating to watch the wigwam being built. I noticed how well you worked together to complete the task, and I guess the tribes in the old days would have been very good at working co-operatively also.

    What would have been used traditionally to cover the outside?

    Wigwams and tents and yurts have been a popular type of home for nomadic lifestyles throughout the world as they are reasonably easy to take down and move from place to place.
    Did the Native Americans use animals to carry heavy loads?

    your friend
    Mrs McKenzie


  2.   Mr. Avery Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich and class,

    Well, I think you not only have some future architects and engineers in your class but also some future singers as well!

    I really enjoyed watching the wigwam be put together. It looked like such a fun project! I want to build my own wigwam now!

    What materials did you use to make the wigwam with?

    Your blogging buddy,
    Mr. Avery


  3.   Mrs. Watson Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich and the Grade 3’s,
    What a fantastic video. Thank you so much for teaching me how to build a “Wetu”. I actually hadn’t seen a home like this before.

    I was also very impressed with your teamwork while building the structure. It looks very strong and I bet it would be a great shelter.

    I would like to learn more about the frame for the “Wetu”. What did the Native Americans use for the “poles”?

    I think the grade 2/3’s will really enjoy your video. I am pretty sure that they will want to build models of the houses our First Nations people built.

    Your friend,
    Mrs. W


  4.   Cassidy Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich,

    This is a very good post! I think that the music is very good background music! It is cool that you made it in fast motion. The wigam was fun to make! It was sort of hard, but not really. It was hard when me, Hope and Tommy were tying to tie the sticks together because they would keep on coming out so I would have to hold the sticks in to make them stay in the hole.
    Sam K, Sam C, Sam L and Erik did a good job putting the grass down and putting the rest of the sticks in the spots that they were supposed to put them.

    :) Cassidy


  5.   David Says:

    Enchanting post, I thought the speeded up film worked very well. the internal frames of buildings are fascinating. your children worked well together and did a great job!
    My wife started to sing the song! Apparently she learnt it over 30 years ago in the brownies. It’s amazing how many times Brownies are mentioned alongside good school activities!
    In England we don’t really have a group that we think of as native people. In my village Bainbridge people have lived over 1000 years, including Romans and Vikings.
    For hundreds of yearshouses around this area have been made of limestone. before that wood framed with wattle and daub walls.
    Have there ever been structures like castles in America?

    Great work guys

    Mr E
    Hawes CP School


  6.   Mrs. Y♥llis Says:

    Dear wigwam builders,

    We really enjoyed the video of you building the wigwam. It looks like you did a good job working together.

    Your wigwam reminds us of a project we did in second grade. We made covered wagons out of Popsicle sticks, cardboard, and canvas. We put sand on the ground and made oxen out of paper. We used string to attach wagon to the oxen.

    Our local tribe is called the Chumash. (choo-mash) The Chumash house was dome-shaped like the wigwam and was called an ap. (ahp) However, the ap had a round door and the wigwam door was rectangular. Both doors look low. Another difference is the building material. The Chumash used alfalfa and tule. What is the wigmam cover with? We guess birch because of the song.

    Mrs. Yollis was wondering if you could include the lyrics to the song. She thinks it would be fun to sing along with you!

    Your friends,
    Hannah, Miriam, and Misha :) :D :-)
    (Mrs. Yollis’ students)


  7.   Maria Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich’s Class,

    your song was amazing. I have a question for you guys and please respond back. The question is, how did you make the wigwams? that was so cool. I want to make one of those.



  8.   B4 Says:

    Dear Mr Salsich,

    We like the wigwams very very much.
    What did you make them out of?

    from Nathan and Adam ♥


  9.   B4 Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich

    We like your video. Was it hard to make them? How did you make them?

    from Mattie, Matthew and Spike


  10.   Anonymous Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich
    That is a pretty nice Wetu and it looks pretty hard to make in one minute 45 seconds. It’s also its very creative.

    Sunnyland School
    Bellingham, Washington

    where is your school?


  11.   Anonymous Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich,
    I really Like your Wigwam. I think building one of those things was very creative.
    Maybe someday I will build one of them if I get the supplies and the time.
    How many students do you have? I Think your class does pretty cool things.
    From, Rylan
    Sunnyland School – Room 12, Bellingham, WA


  12.   Alison Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich,

    I really liked the video. I think that making a wigwam could be very fun if it’s miniature. If it’s a real one it could be dangerous if a stick fell on a person.

    The houses in our neighborhood have glass windows and curtains. The outside is painted and the roof is covered in shingles. The roof is also not a dome shape. The inside has fancy couches and comfy chairs. Some houses have antiques. In the kitchen there is a counter, a refrigerator, a microwave, and an oven. There are stairs and an upper floor. The bedrooms have a big bed or a smaller one and sometimes pictures. There could be cubbies to keep toys or a bookcase. Modern houses are nothing like Native American houses.



  13.   Mrs. Hembree Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich and Class,
    I enjoyed watching your video. The Native Americans in Washington state lived in very different houses than the houses built there.
    We have many active tribes in our area. Many of the names of towns in Washington are Native American words. Towns like Puyallup, Snoqualmie, Sammamish, and Snohomish are all named after regional tribes. In the olden days these tribes built longhouses to live in. They are very different than wigwams.
    Our tribes are also known for their totem poles, baskets and button blankets. Are your regional tribes known for their artwork too?
    From a Washington Blogging Buddy,
    Mrs. Hembree


  14.   Mrs. Bright Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich and Class,

    That was a fascinating video to watch! How smart and engineering you truly are!

    I grew up in Indiana, and one of my favorite regional tribes to learn about is the Potawatomi. Just like the tribes you are studying, the Potawatomi tribe also built wigwams, and larger versions of the wigwam called a long house. The Potawatomi built their wigwams out of bark just like you did!

    Your Friend
    Mrs. Bright
    5th Grade
    Cibolo Green Elementary
    San Antonio, Texas


  15.   Moira (Sam C.'s Grandmother) Says:

    Great “tribe” work! Your unit on Native Americans has a creative blend of social studies, problem solving, reading, art, movement and music (loved your song!). What an enriched approach to learning! The Wigwam Wiki link showcased more highlights and information, thanks for sharing!!
    Sam C.’s Grandmother


  16.   Lucy Says:

    Your wigwam frame looks very good. You might grow up to be wigwam builders.


  17.   Adrianna Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich,
    I love the video guys made. The wigwams or wetus looked great. Who wrote the lyrics for the song you sang? Native Americans in Michigan lived in longhouses and wigwams. Why do you always make awesome videos? They’re great!

    Your friend,
    Techie Kids


  18.   Alivia Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich’s class,
    Some interesting facts about wigwams is that wigwams are made of wood, sticks, and dirt. The wigwam would look like a big piece of wood. How long would it take to build a real wigwam?



  19.   Jennifer Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich’s class,
    I have an interesting fact about wigwams. The Indians lived in a small wigwam with more than 10 people in it. That means that they could have used bunk beds. :)

    Techie Kids


  20.   Makayla Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich,
    Hi this is Makayla. I loved the wigwam video you guys made. It was very cool. Why do you guys make those videos? They are always awesome!

    From Makayla,
    Techie Kids


  21.   Margot Says:

    Dear Mr. Salsich,

    I thought the video was fantastic! I liked how you put it in fast motion so it wouldn`t take as long. I wish I could make a minature wigwam at home. I also think it would be very cool if I could live like a Native American in Connecticut or Rhode Island. I think it would be interesting to make dugout conoes, wampum jewelry, and wigwams!

    I do not know a lot of things about wigwams and wetus, but I do know that the Native Americans would need to get many small saplings and trees to make the base of the wigwam. Then they would use leather, plants, or animal fur to cover the wigwam to make it warm. Then they might add beds with leather or animal skin blankets.

    I also have a few questions about wigwams and wetus: How big was a average wigwam or wetu? How many people could a wigwam or wetu fit? Did more than one family live in a wigwam or wetu? Were wigwams warm or cold?

    in Mr. Salsich`s class


Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.