The Inuit are native people of the cold Canadian Arctic. They first built igloos as temporary shelters for long hunting trips. An igloo is a shelter made of snow and ice. It keeps the heat in, and the cold wind and snow out.
Although the most ideal place to build an igloo is outside with an abundance of real snow, most of us do not live in an area with substantial, consistent snowfall, or the right kind of snow layers, or snowpack. A few inches of fresh powder snow for example cannot be used, nor can hint of wet, heavy snow. Igloos are build in regions with trusted snowpack, if this is your area, by all means, go outside and go for it!! For those who want to try to build an igloo and live in a warmer area or apartment, this is a simple craft idea.
Here, as you can tell based on construction, I made this with our four yr old just for fun. We wrote a story together after imagining who would live in our home and what their daily schedule would be like. It was simple and light. With older children you can read a selection of books, choosing your favorite to do a book report on, you can create a blueprint first, estimate how many bricks you will use, how much it will weigh, challenge your problem solving to see how large or small you can make one, and also write a story based upon what it might be like to live and sleep in an igloo. I offer a recipe for white modeling clay that will dry and set hard, yet if you have a modeling clay you love, by all means use that too.
White clay (buy or make your own - recipe follows)
Cardboard toilet paper roll
Sturdy piece of cardboard
Butter knife or play knife
Crayon or pencil
Craft paint (white and any other colors you'd like for other decorations)
Spray bottle with water
To make a sturdy base for your igloo, cut out a piece of cardboard from an old shipping box (the piece should be wider than your bowl). Cardboard can be tough to cut so ask a grownup for help. Paint the cardboard white for snow--or any other color you wish. Let it dry.
Cut the paper roll in half lengthwise, then cut it in half again crosswise to make a little tunnel. This is the entrance into the igloo. (Recycle the leftover pieces, or save them for a future art project.)
While your pieces of cardboard dry, make the play dough. (Skip this step if using store-bought clay.)
Once everything is dry, place your bowl, or round tracing object upside down on the cardboard and trace a circle using a crayon or pencil.
Place the entrance to the igloo on the edge of the circle. The 'snow' bricks will hold it in place or you can glue it down.
Now it's time to make the 'snow' bricks from your clay. Take a piece of clay, roll it out and cut it into sections about one inch long and one-half inch thick and wide. Shape the sections into a rectangle. Make sure to even out the edges and smooth the clay. If your clay becomes dry, spray it with water.
As you make your bricks, place them around the edge of your circle.
Spray the top of the bricks in your first layer a few times to keep them sticky and then add the next layer of bricks. This is the tricky part! To create the dome shape, place this next layer of bricks so that the outer edge of the bottom layer sticks out slightly. Remember to add bricks over your entrance.
Continue to add layers until you have reached the top, placing each layer slightly more inside than the last. Leave space at the top for air to enter and escape-just like a real igloo!
Make a scene for your igloo with your favorite Arctic animals, such as polar bears. (But remember, there are no penguins in the Arctic!)
Some thoughts to consider together:
How can a shelter of snow keep you warm when snow feels so cold? When you wrap a comforter around you, it traps the heat your body makes. An igloo works the same way. Snow traps the air warmed from your body. You'll still need your hat and gloves, but it will feel better than being outside.
Animals use snow to stay warm in the winter, too. For example, the ruffed grouse will make a roost for the night in a small tunnel it creates when it dives into the snow. Isn't nature amazing?
Make Your Own Clay - this is enough for one medium sized igloo, if making with two or more children, double or triple as needed.
3 cups baking soda
2 cup corn starch
2 1/2 cups water
Combine the dry ingredients in a cooking medium large pot, add water, cook over medium heat stirring constantly. The mixture should be ready in about five minutes. It will look and act like play dough.Let cool, remove from pot and knead into a ball. You can store any extra clay dough in an airtight container. You can use this clay dough recipe and dye it other colors for other modeling creations too.