Making a Tepee and Buckskin Paper

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Social Studies, United States History, Art, Mediums

Grade 3- 5


Students will practice their arts and crafts skills while learning about Cheyenne Tepees and buckskin paper.


  1. Display pictures of tepees. Read and discuss page 30.
  2. If possible, measure and mark the diameter of a tepee with chalk on the blacktop or use a length of string to demonstrate the size on the classroom floor.
  3. If desired, give paper a leather texture by following the steps below.
  4. When the paper has dried, use the compass to draw a large circle. Use a diameter that is slightly shorter than the sticks. Cut out the circle, then cut it in half to form a tepee cover.
  5. Use tempera paint to add Native American designs to the tepees.
  6. Tie three sticks together and spread them into a tripod.
  7. Glue the cover over the frame.
Buckskin Paper
Native Americans made many of their necessities from the hides of the buffalo or other animals. In the late nineteenth century, expansion and white trappers nearly made the species almost extinct. Follow the directions below to make paper that looks like leather or buckskin. Use the paper for making Indian crafts.
  • sponge
  • paper plate
  • old toothbrush
  • crayons
  • tempera or acrylic paint
  • paper (grocery bags, butcher paper, brown wrapping paper, or school craft paper)

Method 1: Select crayons in brown, rust, and orange. Peel the paper wrapper from the crayon and use the side to cover the paper with scribbles. Make many layers of different colors. Rub the colors with a paper towel or rag to blend them together.
Method 2: Use a paper plate as a palette. Place a dab of paint of each color on the plate. Use colors like brown, ocher, and burnt sienna. Use the flat side of a damp sponge to pick up all the colors. Dab the sponge on the paper with quick movements. Blend the paint with the sponge as you continue. Use the sponge to create different textures and effects.


  • compass
  • scissors
  • long, straight sticks
  • tempera paint
  • string
  • paper
  • glue
  • chamois, vinyl, or felt
  • copies of The Cheyenne Tepee background page (see the link to activity pages below)

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