It’s taken hours of work after-school, a few adventures in dumpster diving, and donations from communities near and far, but the payoff is here: there’s an igloo in the Central Heights Elementary School library.
“They absolutely love it,” said Christy Smith, CHES librarian. “The kindergartners told me that they want to be ‘blizzarded in’ so they don’t have to leave school and they can sleep in the igloo.”
Smith and Jeane Nigles, CHES Title I reading teacher, have spent the last two months creating an igloo from over 1,100 plastic jugs. The ceiling-high structure started as a small part of the school’s February Positive Behavior celebration, but grew to fulfill broader educational goals of both Smith and Nigles.
“We’re the reading gals,” Smith said. “We love for them to love the library and love reading, and now they all want to read, because they all want to go in the igloo.”
The original plan was to build a 450-jug igloo, big enough for two to three kids at a time. However, as the donations started piling up, their vision for the project expanded as well. Jugs came from parents and kids, dumpsters, daycare centers, recycling centers, nursing homes, other schools, and other organizations from as far away as Oklahoma.
“We had people leaving them on our front porches, in our flower pots, in our vehicles parked at our houses,” Nigles said, laughing. “We put it on Facebook and everyone started delivering.”
After washing and bleaching every jug, Smith’s husband built the structure’s frame and the two educators got to work. The process wasn’t without its hitches, they said.
“You have to put lids on them, for instance -- we learned that the hard way,” Smith said. “Otherwise it gets too heavy, they collapse, and the igloo falls. We came in one morning and a whole side was collapsed.”
As the structure grew, the kids began to get excited about it.
“When we were building it, kids would stop by the door and they’d say, ‘Good job, you guys are doing good! How much longer, are you guys done yet?’” Smith said. “They would come every morning, and even if I didn’t have the doors open yet, they would be knocking on the doors, trying to see how much bigger it got from the day before.”
The igloo will serve its purpose at the Positive Behavior party -- kids will read about igloos while inside the igloo -- and then morph into another of Smith’s famous library themes, which the kids have come to expect.
“I’m thinking about turning it into a cave for after spring and doing a dinosaur theme, with like a big T-Rex cardboard head to go with it,” Smith said. “I had a Polar Express train last year made out of three refrigerator boxes. We had the beach last year, with a pool, with floaties and umbrellas. We’ve had a camping theme, where we set up tents and read by flashlight.
“They like seeing what is going to happen next.”