SALEM - St. Paul School kindergarten students learned about Inuits living off the land in Alaska by putting their own resourcefulness to work - they gathered plastic jugs their teacher then used to build an igloo.
Not a model of an igloo, but a life-size, big enough to hold a kindergarten class-size igloo that has become part of their classroom.
"They've found all kinds of uses for it," teacher Clara Tolson said.
Students in Clara Tolson’s kindergarten class at St. Paul School in Salem gather around their classroom igloo, constructed out of plastic gallon jugs and half-gallon jugs they gathered for a winter wonderland project. Front from left are Nathan Yakubek, Maggie Hall, Jillian Pieren, Annabella Cusick and Andrew Beck; and back from left Evan VanHorn, Patricia Matias-Mateo and teacher Clara Tolson. (Salem News photo by Mary Ann Greier)
Tolson can stand up inside the igloo constructed out of 557 gallon jugs and a handful of half-gallon jugs. The outside is decorated with fake snow and plastic snowflakes, while the inside features a rug and a stuffed wolf which appears to be howling.
The students had help gathering the plastic jugs, from fellow students and teachers at the school, the weekly bingo at the school and parishioners at St. Paul Church.
The lids to the jugs face the inside of the igloo, providing a colorful backdrop. The jugs came from milk, juice, water, sweet tea and anything else packaged in a plastic jug.
Tolson found a smaller version of the igloo project online, but they gathered way more jugs than they expected. Each day they colored in a goal chart shaped like a gallon jug to show how close they were to their
goal and when it went over, they created another chart shaped like a glass of milk and another shaped like a cookie.
"I was amazed we could get that many that quick," she said, noting they only needed three weeks.
The project started with a winter wonderland theme, with the students learning about the Eskimos, called Inuits, and how snow and ice were the only resources they had for building. Tolson joined the jugs together using a hot glue gun, starting by forming them in a large circle on a piece of cardboard and adding to it day by day until they reached the top and put the final piece in place.
Andrew Beck, 6, said they learned about recycling and "that it's good to help the environment."
His classmate, Annabella Cusick, also 6, said they're going to take the jugs to the recycling center eventually as part of a field trip. Maggie Hall, 5, talked about how they learned to put the lids on the inside of the igloo.
The students also learned how to count by twos. They spend time in the igloo for reading, lessons and partner projects and other students also come to see the igloo.
One student, Nathan Yakubek, 6, took the lesson to heart and created his own recycling project at home.
He used a shoebox, a pretzel jug and some duct tape to build a miniature stadium he calls "The Lightning Dome."