A while back I was reading into what makes a outdoor space really welcoming for children and I noticed three main components that presented themselves quite a bit: loose parts for open-ended play, lots of opportunities to connect with nature, and some small spaces to hide away when they need a rest. I went through a lot of DIY playhouse plans and ideas before I settled on the teepee neighborhood.
My main goals for this project were to create something that would be inexpensive, easy to assemble, sturdy, and some what open ended for the kids. The only tools needed for this project were scissors and a mallet.
I started off by purchasing 4 pieces of 10 foot long 1/2 PVC pipe from Home Depot for about $2 each. I had the store employees cut the PVC into 3 foot lengths, there was a few pieces of scrap PVC.
While at Home Depot, I also picked up a 12-pack of wooden stakes for $1.50 and some colorful red, yellow, and blue duct tape, which we used quite a bit in other backyard projects as well. (See also our music wall, rainbow of pin wheels, and pretend play flower garden for other uses of duct tape.)
To make the frame for one of the teepees, I drove 4 stakes into the ground about 2 feet apart from each other in a square shape. Then I used duct tape to secure four of the 3 foot PVC pipe pieces together at one side and to each of the four stakes at the other side.
I cut the bottom 2.5 feet of the shower curtain and then I poked one of the shower curtain links through each hole at the curtain top to create a sort of bunched effect.
I then secured the shower curtain link to the top where all the PVC pipes joined together.
Finally I stretched the bottom part of the shower curtain around all the wooden stakes and secured them with tape as well.
Repeat two more times and we’ve got a whole neighborhood. I’m thinking of adding a little pretend play campfire, maybe some stepping stone paths between the houses.
The teepee neighborhood has been up for about a month now and so far it has held up well against wind and rain and children rough housing. I do expect to have to change out the shower curtains eventually as they are not made for outdoor use but so far we haven’t seen any rips and they seem surprisingly strong.by