How to Make a Gymnastics Vault for Dolls

Of all the furniture and accessories that are available for dolls, the gymnastics equipment for American Girl of the Year McKenna has got to be my all time favorite. So, I might be a bit biased – I was a gymnastics coach for many years (26 to be exact) and my daughter has been a gymnast from the time she could walk. We got McKenna’s bar and beam as soon as they came out and the girls love them, but McKenna is missing something – her vault!

How to make a gymnastics vault for American Girl dolls

In her books, McKenna is working towards the Level 4 team. In the US, Level 4 gymnasts compete vault on a large mat system and do a vault called a handstand to flat back. In her movie, McKenna is more like a Level 8 and would not use this vault for competition, but she would use it in training for high level vaults. McKenna is wearing a retired American Girl leotard and Kit also has a retired AG leotard on, too.

How to make a gymnastics vault for McKenna

In order to make a vault system for McKenna (or any of your dolls), you will need:

  • A large box – I used the shipping box from McKenna – it is about 21″ long by 10.5″ wide by about 10″ tall.
  • A piece of packing foam cut to 21″ x 10.5″ x 2″. You could use kitchen sponges from the Dollar Store too.
  • Scrap cardboard
  • Duct tape
  • Wrapping paper
  • Craft foam
  • Tape, glue, scissors

How to make a gymnastics vault for McKenna

Step 1 – Measure then cut the wrapping paper and wrap your box. I used packing tape so it would be more secure. I recommend leaving one set of flaps open so you can use the box for storage when McKenna is not working out.

How to make a gymnastics vault for McKenna

Here is what the base of the vault looks like now. You could actually leave it like this and have McKenna practice her vault on this “setting.” Or you can add a mat on top like they do in gyms – they have mats they can stack on top to make it more challenging or to accommodate girls who are taller.

How to make a gymnastics vault for McKenna

Step 2 – To make the mat on top, cut a piece of foam recycled from a packing box that will fit on the top of your box. You can also use sponges from the dollar store.

Step 3 – Cover the foam with duct tape.

How to make a gymnastics vault for McKenna

McKenna is much happier with the mat on top. This way she can remove the mat and put it on the floor to practice her back handsprings or put it at the end of her beam to practice her dismounts.

How to make a gymnastics vault for McKenna

If you want to make the mat really accurate – add a line with contrasting duct tape on one end of the vault. When Level 4 gymnasts do their vault their hands can not go past the line when they go to the handstand or they will get a deduction.

How to make a gymnastics vault for McKenna

McKenna needs a springboard to go with her vault. She will be able to use the springboard at bars and beam too.

Step 4 – Cut two pieces of cardboard that are 4.5″ wide by 6″ tall.

How to make a gymnastics vault for McKenna

Step 5 – Cover each piece of cardboard with fun foam and then staple one end of the stack (I recommend three staples).

How to make a gymnastics vault for McKenna

Step 6 – Cover the end with the staples with contrasting duct tape.

Step 7 – Cut two small squares of foam to place in between the layers of foam to simulate the springs in a springboard. You could also use scrapbooking foam squares stacked, Model Magic or really anything that could look/act like springs in this case.

Step 8 – Add a stripe of contrasting duct tape towards the top of the springboard that wraps around to the underneath of the springboard. This line is a visual aid for the gymnast as to where the best spring is and it keeps the springs from falling out, too.

How to make a gymnastics vault for McKenna

Ta-da!! I added a vault runway also made from 3 strips of duct tape side by side. Now McKenna and Kit can get on with their workout.

I have more photos of McKenna practicing her Level 4 vault and her more advanced vault, but I will post them later in a separate post.

I hope you liked this craft! If you missed the tutorial for making a beam for the dolls, visit our post Doll Craft: How to make a balance beam for your dolls and here is a video of our dolls doing a bar routine.

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  1. Firstie

  2. That is so creative! I could never come up with that!

  3. Awesome I love the craft I’m gonna really try my best making in it :) I have a beam
    And a gym mat for my dolls :)

  4. awesome!! just last night i was trying to make a gymnastics thing and i was trying to make a vault!!! so this helps a lot!!!!

  5. Cute , but what is the vault used for ? Also , could you please make a bar (like that thing that comes with the beams and bars thing) to do flips on ? Please ?

  6. Char- not to rush but when r u going to post the winners?? and do you rekamend McKenna? because a want to get here starter kit.

  7. Megan – it will be later this afternoon because I am not in my office right now.

  8. Avalon-
    Char has already made a balance beam and bar. If you go to Doll Crafts at the top, you just keep on scrolling and you’ll see it

  9. Do you put @Avalon here? lol sorry


  11. Coolio! I lost the ellowyne poetry contest :( No ellowyne for me… ):

  12. Abbott, sorry

  13. I LOVE MCKENNA’S HAIR STYLE (6th picture) !!!!! How did you do it to look so adorable?

  14. Aglover says:

    Char, i need help! I got these magic attic dolls from someone my mom knows, but a long time ago someone gave me these other dolls. They said they were ags (and came wit ag stuff) so i always thought they were hopschoch hill or something, but THEY LOOK JUST LIKE MAGIC ATTIC DOLLS! Can you help me identify them? Please? :)

  15. Marina – it is just braids that are looped up – do you want us to do a tutorial on it?

  16. Aglover – Can you send me photos?

  17. MissCpFreaks do you anything else about the new historical ???? I’m so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!! :) :) if she is from the 80s or Colonial times I am gonna go crazy over her when she comes out.

  18. That gymnastics thing is soooo cool!
    Aglover that is so cool that you got magic attic dolls!!

  19. Aglover says:

    Char-how do i send photos?

  20. Aglover says:

    sorry i am new here. Lily-Thanks! :)

  21. You can email them to me at

  22. you forgot a bar i want to make one but nevermind that great job

  23. Taylor – I haven’t forgotten – I just haven’t figured out the best way to make one yet

  24. aglover says:

    cool looks hard does springfield dolls clothes fit AG

  25. Most Springfield doll clothes fit AG and the other way around

  26. I just made the doll balance beam using your suggestions. My daughter Kaiya (4) who is in level 3 team, wanted the McKenna gym equipment. It is reasonably priced being that it’s AG. But seeing as Mandatory team camp is coming up and then all travel dues are going to be due, I needed to be frugal. I spent $5.50 for supplies at Big Lots. Got their sponges and purple duck tape. After I finished and posted pics of the steps to my FB wall, she played with her beam for an hour straight. I think she would have played longer if it wasn’t past her bed time. Thank you so much for the idea. It is really awesome and I just got the best Mom award tonight. LOL *I can’t wait to make her the vault. This vault can be used for level 3 skills too…Handstand forward roll…She wanted to to know that. I’m sure you did, seeing as you were a former coach.


  27. Cherie – that is fantastic! And yes, the Level 3s use that same vault set up. Good luck and enjoy your daughter’s gymnastics journey.

  28. Aglover says:

    It might be a little bit before i have time to send the photos. Sorry to keep you waiying.

  29. Aglover says:

    I mean waiting!


  31. I?Mckenna Brooks! says:

    Wow you are SOOOO creative! I might try to find the matrieals to make this! Your are AWESOME!!!!!!!!!

  32. i agree with i?Mckenna Brooks!. this idea is totally awesome. i was looking around for big boxes and couldnt find any (im sure i will) and then i thought of how to make a balance beam! you use two mini ag boxes, front and back you lay the front down, color facing floor, and you stick the back facing upright covering up the mini window. in the end both should look like an L . then you flip it over so the back is on the ground,and you put the empty side together , looking like this, I_I then stand it up and your done!

  33. Char – will you have any new articles on how to make ag doll gymnastics equipment soon ?

  34. Lindsey -I am working on some. Do you have any specific requests?

  35. Lindsey says:

    Char- any ! what ones are you working on ?