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Air-Castle Himmeli Craft

In my book The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide, I shared 75 activities to help young readers immerse themselves in the world of Little House. This air-castle or himmeli craft is just one of the activities to help you "Live Like Almanzo" inspired by the book Farmer Boy. 

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What is an Air-Castle?

In chapter two of Farmer Boy, Alice had made an air-castle from straw and hung it over the dining room table. She connected pieces of straw to make an interesting decoration. She even added small pieces of fabric to make it extra fancy. 

Another name for air-castles is himmeli. When translated from German or Swedish, the word relates to "sky" or "heaven." 

A traditional Finnish holiday tradition called himmeli uses straw from plants and string to make Christmas ornaments and decorations. Many designs are complicated and use hundreds—or thousands—of straw pieces. This is a basic design to introduce you to himmeli

Make an Air-Castle Himmeli Craft

Once you get the hang of himmeli, you can combine short and long straws to make more interesting designs. Instead of using straw from plants, this craft uses drinking straws.

What you need:

drinking straws* (several straws cut to 12 equal-length pieces or 12 full-length straws

thread, at least 4 feet (1 m) long


scrap fabric, optional

*If using flexible straws, cut off the flexible tip and use the remaining straw for the project.

What to do:

1. String three straw pieces on the thread. Form a tight triangle and knot the thread as close as possible to the straws. Do not cut the thread. But do tie a knot.

2. Thread two more straw pieces on the long end of the thread. It should form a second triangle. Do not cut the thread. Tie a knot attaching the new triangle to the old one. 

3. Continue this pattern of adding two straws until you have five connected triangles and one straw leftover.

4. Lift the center of the triangle row and add the last straw to make an upright triangle as pictured. It should look like a pyramid with a flat triangle on two sides. Tie the ends together.

5. Hold the pyramid up. Push the two side triangles down to meet. Cut additional thread to tie these triangles together.

6. Tie a 6 to 10-inch (15 to 25 cm) piece of thread to the air castle to create a hanging loop. Trim any extra thread pieces. Hang it up! 

Note: If using full-length straws, I recommend using a needle (like a yarn or darning needle) to easily put the thread through the straws. 

Here's a picture of an air-castle or himelli craft from Farmer Boy using full-length straws. 
Look for more Little House activities in my book, The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter GuideIt's full of history, activities, and fun for Little House fans. 

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 Happy Trails! ~ Annette 

Annette Whipple is a nonfiction children's author. Learn more about her books and presentations at

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