Mongolian Gers -- Tent Houses


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

So I had big plans to start reviewing books on Japan. I have quite a pile. However they are going to wait until next week and into June because I found one other Asian country to cover on my bookshelf. Today I am going to share with you Story of the Mongolian Tent House by Dashdondog Jamba, retold by Anne Pellowski and illustrated by Beatriz Vidal. Before I begin my review, I would like to add that there are not a whole lot of books about or from Mongolia or many crafts or resources for kids. When I did a search for craft ideas most of them were adult crafts and for sale. I think this is a topic that needs a bit more exploring and I am going to share what I did find.

From the Publisher:

Based on an original tale by award-winning Mongolian author, Dashdondog Jamba, and retold by distinguished international author, Anne Pellowski, find out how the traditional Mongolian tent house (called a ger in Mongolian and a yurt in Turkish), was created in the ancient past by drawing on the example of nature, and how it later became a beloved symbol of friendship and harmony. With stunning illustrations of Mongolian culture by renowned artist, Beatriz Vidal, young readers can experience first-hand the wide-open steppes of this vast and wild land bordering on Russia to the north and China to the south.

From Me: 

This story is so sweet. It begins with a time of animals and humans living together in peace and harmony but then they begin to fight (and some become predators and others prey). They go their separate ways and one man wants to find some shelter for himself and his sons. The way the man creates the ger is fun and I love the ties to nature and Earth itself. When the man dies the sons begin to fight and each takes part of the ger but soon realize their piece is not enough shelter and they end up having to work together and live together to stay safe. I love how the story is about the traditional Mongolian house but also about working together and family staying together. The illustrations are beautiful as well. 

At the end of the book is the Author's Note which shares more about the ger as well as a bit of how gers are used in today's world. I love that it shares even more about the traditional houses. The story is fun to read and the book is very informative about this traditional house and culture!

Now as I searched for Mongolian crafts and gers in particular, I came across my friend's over at All Done Monkey. She had her children build one using pipe cleaners and felt.

I also found ones like this ornament that is sold over on Etsy. I was thinking of ways to make this ornament (with the door closed) and came up with using cardboard and felt. I started to make the base for it. I cut a strip of cardboard and rolled it to form the walls. Then I struggled with the cone top being the appropriate dimensions.
I finally made the cone out of regular printer paper and once I figured it out I made one out of cardstock. I punched holes in the cardstock and tied a string to make it an ornament. Then I was going to cover it with white felt and make a red door. However I realized that was going to take some sewing to do it well and I didn't have enough time. 

I thought about how to create a model ger more like the way the real ones are built. I was struggling with the circular wood base and then it came to me. Embroidery hoops! I bought to large embroidery hoops and one small one. Then I used Popsicle sticks and small wooden dowels. I used hot glue so it would dry quickly but would have used craft glue and tape or glue dots with kids.

I struggled with getting it centered properly but loved the idea of the base. I also did not take the time to cover it with felt. I do think building a model ger is an amazing STEM project though! 

Now we learned a bit about Mongolia when we participated in Around the World in 12 Dishes. We even made a few simple crafts in that post. I hope you will check them out as well as the book. To see real life pictures of gers and other Mongolian ideas please check out the Mongolia section of my Asia Pinterest Board.