Rope, sticks, fabric and felt... these might not be the first materials you would think of when constructing your permanent residence... but if you're constantly on the move, they couldn't be more perfect. That is why Mongolian Gers or Yurts have been made of these materials for hundreds of years. A Ger is the traditional dwelling of Mongolian nomads and is still used today by 30-40% of the population in Mongolia.
In order to learn a little more about these wonderful structures and the culture that surrounds them, we set out to make a miniature version that could also double as a portable play/doll/fairy house on trips away from home.
Admittedly, preparing the structure takes a little time and patience, but once it is built, the pieces can be used over and over again just as they would be in the real world. In order to make the lattice that becomes the walls we drilled three holes equidistant from each other along the center line of 20 large craft sticks (tongue depressors). These have to be done with a drill one piece at a time because using a nail or drilling through a stack will break more sticks than it will put holes in. We made one stick first and then used it as a template to drill the others and it was all done in about half an hour or so. Once all the holes were drilled we then made 10 "X's" out of the 20 sticks and the proceeded to connect them all together.
In order for the structure to be collapsible it's important to make sure that all of the parts of the "X's" that point left are on top and all of the parts that point to the right are on the bottom. To get the feel of it we started out by just tying two of the "X's" together and testing out the collapsing action before we tied the rest.
Once we had the wall structure built, we made the roof support by drilling holes down the center of an old cardboard tape role (for the "rafters" to go into) and attached it to two sticks that were about 3" taller than the wall heights. The rafters are made from bamboo skewers we had left over from our last shish kebab dinner.
We then went on to complete the Ger by wrapping it in fabric and felt in the same manner as seen here. Ours is a little more basic than that version (we used felt flaps for the doors like these ones and we didn't paint the internal structures) but we think it is still a lot of fun.
And voila!... a mini Ger perfect for nomadic play and a natural history lesson.