Make A Tent

When I was a kid, I always wished that Tinker Toys were life-sized so I could build a house and then live in it.

I think that is why I love this project so much.   Ryan recently had a sleep-over at a friend’s house for a camping-themed birthday party.   His friend’s mom had cut some PVC pipes and provided blankets so the kids could create their own indoor sleeping tent in her living room.   It was such a hit with my kids, that we borrowed the idea and this was our first creation.   Here is how to make a play tent.

make a tentDIY Tent Supplies:

  • 10 – 1/2″ PVC plumbing pipes {they come in a 10′ length}
  • 2 – 10 piece bags of 1/2″ 90 degree ELBOW
  • 2 – 10 piece bags of 1/2″ TEE
  • Ratcheting PVC Cutter
  • 5 – Sheets

make a tent suppliesHow to Make A Tent:

  1. My friend had her local home improvement store cut the tent pipes, but my Home Depot was not that accommodating, so I purchased a Ratcheting PVC Cutter to do it myself at home.   They are very easy to use and it did give me the freedom to cut the pieces the exact size I wanted once I figured out what we were going to make.   I cut 8 of the pipes into 2 – 4′ pieces and one 2′ section.
  2. After some serious math calculations which included my 5th grader, husband and the Pythagorean theorem, I cut 2 of the longer PVC pipes into sections that were 2′ 9 7/8″ so that a 90 degree elbow could be used at the roof peaks.   I labeled these pieces with a Sharpie “R” for “roof” so they could be easily identified when needed.
  3. Several of the smaller 2′ pieces I cut into 2″ inch pieces to be used as connectors.
  4. To make the structure shown here you would need:   12 – 4′ segments, 4 – “R” segments, 10 – 90 degree ELBOW pieces, 12 – TEE pieces and 12 – 2″ connectors {small cut piece of regular pipe}.
  5. Add sheets and move in {I learned that blankets were more likely to cause a weight shift, but could be used if a more stable structure was built}.

make a tent frameWe made several variations of this structure substituting 2′ segments for several of the WALL portions to help add stability.   If you are doing this with small children, it might be best to start with smaller pipe sections and use chairs or a tree for support since it is likely to shift and fall over with JUST this configuration.

We also started experimenting with adding cross-bars which continued the mommy math lesson to achieve that within the generic pieces of PVC available at a hardware store.

make a tent jointsBecause the PVC pipe joints are not as functional as Tinker Toy connectors, there is a little problem-solving when it comes to how to put things together.   You can see my lower and upper corners pictured here.   The TEE segments are complimented by adding a 2″ connector piece that joins the ELBOW below.   On the upper corner, two TEEs are used – one for the supporting vertical post and one at an angle for the roof.

The PVC pipes were less than $2 a piece and so were the bags of ELBOWs and TEEs.   All the PVC materials for this project was less than $25.   The PVC cutter costs around $10.

The cool thing is when the boys were tired of building a tent house, they simply pushed it over and built something else with the pieces…

They make decent musical instruments and awesome weapons.


Like camping?   Quirky Momma is part of a online camping community and we’d love for you to join us and tell us about your camping or travel experiences at the KOA Around the Campfire Community.


  1. We did the same thing a year ago while staying with my parents. Our two big girls didn’t have much of a play area, so we made a tent out of PVC pipe. Covered it with spare fabric and table cloths sewn together. Put a rug and a couple of chairs in there. They loved it!

  2. Creative and Curious Kids! says:

    That is so cool! My kids would love it!

    Jen 🙂

  3. I created a similar system 6 years ago. It’s a giant set of “lincoln logs”. I have 2 foot pieces, 1 foot pieces, 45 degree joints, 90 degree joints, T joints, and just the plain joint. Then after my husband started building with our daughter and I, we went and got a special three way corner joint. It cost a little bit more than the other joints but it is so handy when you want to build a square. I then went to the second hand store and got scrap fabrics and a bag of clothes pins. We make tunnels and forts whenever we are inspired to and it all fits nicely in a giant Rubbermaid container.

  4. Thx so much for this article. I want to make similar structure for a sukkoh for the upcoming Jewish holidays. Do you think I could use the same principles to make a rectangular structure 10 ft length and 5 ft depth or is the PVC to flimsy for such a large structure?

  5. omg this is fabulous! my kids are nearly grown but i still want one!


    come visit anytime.


  6. That looks like so much fun! And such a great activity for kids!

  7. This is great! I love the part about the PVC making decent musical instruments and awesome weapons. My boys are going to love this. Can’t wait to show my husband and get started! Thanks!

  8. How cute is this?? What a fun, creative idea for kids to play in! I know my girls would love to have this! Thanks for sharing @ Show & Share!

  9. COOL! I’ve often thought about making a bucket full of pvc pieces for my son to just have fun and create with. He had a pvc marshmallow shooter that he took apart and redesigned into various swords and weapons and whatnot. I just haven’t gotten around to making a pvc collection yet — maybe I should!

  10. Kristen @ Celebrate Every Day With Me says:

    What a fun idea! I’m sending this to my husband to make! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  11. This is AWESOME! My hubby, kids, and I will have a great time building this!!! Question about the sheets – yours look so “neat” in the top picture. Is there a trick to getting them to stay in place like that? Thanks!

    1. Mine are flannel so they stay put a bit better in the wind outside. I used clothespins. Also, I am showing the most presentable picture above :). hahaha

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