TRACY - Not all igloos have to be made with snow. At Tracy Area Elementary School, second-graders in Lisa Schaar's classroom built theirs with plastic milk jugs.
"I like it," second-grader Tara Roberts said. "It took 441 milk jugs to make."
Around Christmastime, Schaar learned of the idea and decided to incorporate educational concepts, including reading, math and technology, into the fun activity.
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Along with their teacher, Lisa Schaar, far right back, a flurry of second-graders at Tracy Area Elementary School stand next to their cool classroom project — a milk jug igloo, which they’ve used to enhance their reading, writing, math and technology skills.
"I actually found it on a Daily 5 blog," Schaar said. "It just happened to be something that someone had submitted. I thought it looked neat. And, there was a link to a tutorial. It showed exactly how to put it together."
At the time, Schaar said, the class was in the middle of a "how to" writing.
"So we used that as our springboard for how to put steps together on how to do a 'how to' writing," she said. "It was pretty neat. The kids had fun with it."
The students used classroom iPads to do some research before beginning the project.
"We have some iPads this year, so we did a little research on the Innuit Indians and how they build their igloos," Schaar said. "We looked at an actual 'how to' method of building a real igloo."
Since hot glue sticks were used to adhere the jugs to each other, the students were not able to actually help construct the igloo. But along with the entire school, the second-graders helped collect enough jugs to use for igloo blocks.
"We started collecting them right after Christmas,"Schaar said. "We put a plea out for jugs and the whole school brought them in. We did get a nice donation from Food Pride and Land O' Lakes. They brought in three sleeves of them, which was about 150 jugs."
Building the igloo was simple, Schaar said.
"You just start on the bottom ring and you glue it onto the cardboard," she said. "Then each row, just the way the jugs are as they come together, they kind of concave themselves all the way up. It's pretty cool."
In doing additional research, Schaar and the students found that the Innuit Indians left a hole at the top of their igloos.
"When the Innuits make their igloos, they have to have a ventilation hole because when they're in there, all their breathing will make it icy inside and the carbon dioxide can't leave," Schaar said. "So they have to have a ventilation hole, kind of like a teepee, on top."
Schaar constructed the snow-less igloo, complete with a ventilation hole, under the watchful eyes of her students.
"Everyday they'd come and there'd be another row done," she said. "Finally, when I got to the point where we were able to make the doorway, that was exciting because they could kind of see it taking shape."
Second-grader Tony Nelson was curious, but a little bit impatient as he watched the progress of the igloo being created.
"I didn't know how it was going to be built," Nelson said. "One day I came and it was only half done. But then all of it was done. It's really good."
After its completion, students are now able to use the igloo as a reading cove.
"I like reading in there," Nelson said. "I really like the rug inside."
Besides carpeting, which matches the classroom carpet, there are also lamps to help light the igloo.
"I like going in there," second-grader Sheridan Ludeman said. "We can only have five people in there at a time or it's too crowded."
Ludeman said she still remembers the first day the igloo was completely finished, when a large number of students and staff members at TAES came to inspect the new addition to the second-grade classroom.
"People in the school did like a train when they came to see it," she said. "One of the first-graders started crawling in the igloo."
Ludeman especially likes getting to record the titles of books that she's read on the igloo blocks.
"If we finish the story inside the igloo, we get to write our name and the book on it," she said. "I've read two books, but I put them on the same milk jug."
While the students have enjoyed their new reading spot, Schaar said they've also had fun doing math projects involving the igloo.
"With our math class last week, I divided them up into groups of two," Schaar said. "Each group was in charge of counting how many different color lids there were. Then we took that information, graphed it and added it all up. That's how we found out we had 441 jugs."
Schaar thought the igloo would stay in the classroom through March. Once spring weather arrives, it might have to be taken apart and sent to the recycling center.
"So far, the kids have really enjoyed it," Schaar said. "They're doing a good job with it."