Statement on Play Tent Tipis

Dr. Montessori never specifically advocated for play tunnels/forts/or tents for use in a child’s environment, but she certainly would have observed that children in the first plane of development (ages 0-6) enjoy the sensory and gross motor experience of crawling into a cozy space. Nowadays, there are many popular “cozy area” products marketed to parents and teachers for early childhood spaces. One of these is a child-sized tipi.

Photos of and recommendations for tipis that are used as play tents are NOT allowed in Montessori 101, and we will not be using our group forum to debate or discuss this issue.

Let us be very clear on why we are taking a firm stance here. First, the tipi is NOT a Montessori material, and it is NOT relevant to the Montessori method. It is a room-decorating “fashion” trend that was perpetuated through the use of social media and then mass-marketed to the public by large corporations, and now a lot of money is being made at the expense of Native Peoples. We will not, even inadvertently, allow our group to perpetuate or support the continued sales of this product. Second, it is without question cultural appropriation (CA).

The term and concept of cultural appropriation may be new to you, and you may be feeling embarrassed, defensive, or confused. Rather than explain in our own words why the use of a child-sized tipi product as a decorative/play item in your Montessori space is culturally insensitive, we would appreciate it if you took the time do some reading on the topic.

In this document are links to articles that have been frequently shared in Montessori 101 by Native Peoples who have taken their time and energy to educate our members on the subject of cultural appropriation. The viewpoints in these articles are meant to challenge your worldview and provide education on this subject.

Note that we are using the term Native Peoples in order to be inclusive of all tribes/cultures affected because we have been informed that it is a respectful term to use, but when speaking to Native Peoples we strongly recommend that you ask them what they prefer to call themselves.

As Montessori teachers and parents, we can absolutely agree on one thing: young children under the age of six are in the period of the absorbent mind. “The things he sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his soul.” Children are not born with cultural associations. They are watching us intently for cues as to how to communicate with others. Inside all of us are impressions made upon us from our earliest caregivers, forming our view of the world. As parents and teachers, continual deep introspection is vital to giving children a true education - nurturing the human being from the very beginning.

Thank you,
Your Montessori 101 Admins

Links to get your research started:

Baby Teepees Are Like Totally In

Definition of Cultural Appropriation

The Dos And Don’ts of Cultural Appropriation

Indoor Teepees: Stylish or Racist?

The Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation

How to Honor Native Americans Without Appropriating

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