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Tiny tippy taps

Use simple knots and lashings to create a model tippy tap. You could even scale it up for use on camp!

You will need

  • Pens or pencils
  • String
  • Sticky tack
  • Paper cups

Create your A-frames

  1. Take two pencils and lash them at the top with a sheer lashing. Leave a gap at the top before starting the lashing, so that once it is finished you can pull the two pencils apart. This will create an unequal ‘X’ shape.
  2. Take another pencil and place it across the bottom of your frame. Lash the pencil in place with a Japanese square lashing. The third pencil forms an ‘A’ shape and makes your A-frame more stable.
  3. Create a second A-frame in exactly the same way.

Add your tippy tap

  1. Take a paper cup and carefully force a pencil through both sides. This will act as the tap.
  2. Stand your A-frames up next to each other and hang the cup between them, so that the pencils sticking out of the cup can rest on the top of the ‘A’ with a little overhang.
  3. Put some white tack on the bottom of your A-frames to help them stand up on their own.
  4. Test the tippy tap by putting a small amount of water in the cup and seeing if it will pour. Make sure you do this outside, or somewhere the water can drain away.


This activity is about using your lashing skills to build something practical. What problems or challenges with the design did you discover in the process? These tiny tippy taps could be scaled up to use on camp, so that we could wash our hands if we didn’t have access to running water. How does making a small-scale model first help you to build something later on?

This activity also helps you to think about people who have different backgrounds and who live very differently to us. Tippy taps are often used in countries where running water is not readily available. How might your life be different if you did not have running water? We can only fit a certain amount of water in the cups, and when it is gone it might be difficult to refill it. What can you do to reduce your water usage in your everyday life?


All activities must be safely managed. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Water games and activities

Be careful when doing activities with, in, or near water. Check surfaces and reduce the risk of slipping where possible. Make sure you have appropriate supervision for this activity.