Kids in Carrie Steir’s Port Washington pre-K class may never forget that “I is for igloo” after the 10 students used more than 600 recycled gallon milk and water jugs to build a life-size one in their classroom.
“They are so proud of it,” says Steir, head teacher of the class at the Florence Brownstein Preschool at the Chabad of Port Washington. “They play in it all the time. It’s the first thing they run to when they run into the classroom.”
Steir usually has the children do a craft to remember the sound each letter they learn makes – when they did P, for instance, they made pinwheels. For W, it was wooden wind chimes.
For I, Steir usually has them make an igloo from mini-marshmallows. But this year, she and her assistant teacher, Barbara Newmark, decided to do something a little, well, bigger. “This was on a grand scale,” says Steir, who watched an instructional YouTube video several times to understand how to construct it.
They ran out of plastic jugs on the third layer up, and they had to enlist the entire school community to start drinking more milk. “We have some big families in Chabad,” Steir says. “It just became a big to-do.” The teachers used hot glue to attach the jugs, and the kids would help hold them. “I squeezed the bottles together,” says Leielle Agajan, 4, of Great Neck, who now plays inside.
"I'm very impressed," say Dora Agajan, Leielle's mother, who says she was at first skeptical that the igloo could come together and then excited as it started to take shape. "I'm very glad my daughter was part of this."
In addition to teaching letters, the planning and building process introduced the kids to math, architecture and design and recycling. “I remember in pre-K I was bit by a turtle,” Steir says. She’s hoping her students’ pre-K memory stick with them as well: “We made a life-size igloo.”