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Skidmore College

S'no joke: Preschoolers construct classroom igloo

February 2, 2016
Greenberg preschoolers 2016
Greenberg preschool pupils share their arctic knowledge.
(Photo by
Rebecca Fawcett ’18)

If making an igloo tops your to-do list and Mother Nature skimps on snow, what do you do?

Luckily for some of Skidmore’s youngest students—the preschoolers at Greenberg Child Care Center—there was a great Plan B involving milk jugs. Two hundred ninety two of them, to be precise.

Under the direction of teacher Natalie Darrow, the 20 preschool pupils began studying the arctic earlier this winter and “came across the idea of an igloo,” said Darrow. With the Northeast now experiencing one of the mildest winters in recent memory, constructing an igloo outside with natural product was unrealistic. Darrow sent an all-College email seeking milk cartons, and the pupils kept track of responses, using a bar graph to tally contributions. They received 60 jugs from campus donors and Darrow confessed that’s when she realized the class might well be into springtime activities before the igloo was completed.

Enter Dining Services, which has a relationship with Stewart’s, local dairy vendor. The company donated 250 cartons to the preschoolers and the igloo idea then became a reality.

The project took two weeks to complete, with lots of help from Greenberg staff. The children painted and decorated the walls and the igloo now has a place of honor in the preschool classroom. It has become the focal point of the class study of the artic and Inuit people. Parents—such as Megan Mercier of Alumni Affairs and College Events, and Kim Marsella, Office of Academic Advising—have provided some first-person accounts about life in cold zones. Mercier participated in a 2009 alumni tour to Antarctica and shared her photo album filled with pictures of glaciers, icebergs, and Gentoo, Adelie, and Chinstrap penguins.

Marsella, a scientist by training, shared stories about doing research in the Arctic Circle. She talked about what it is like to study in such remote places, often for a long period of time (six- to eight-week field seasons) without seeing any other people, the types of equipment used, and why scientists study places like that. They also talked about the Inuit people they met and some of the animals observed, such as muskox and narwhals, as well as the ones they hoped to never see, like polar bears.

Igloo play activities are now an important part of life in the Preschool Room, with a special treat:  one child is selected to take her/his nap in the structure each day. The igloo will remain through February.

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