Making a model igloo is a hands-on activity for children studying the Inuit, the Arctic Circle, tundra or steppe climates, or the history of shelter. Model igloos can be made from anything that can be moulded or cut to look like blocks of snow, including sugar cubes, foam blocks or moulded clay painted white. The techniques used to make the dome of the igloo demonstrate that preliterate cultures developed their own engineering solutions using available materials.
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Things you need
- Sugar cubes, white foam blocks or self-hardening clay blocks painted white
- 50 cm (20-inch) square of thick cardboard
- White glue or epoxy
- 1.5 cm (1/2-inch) paintbrush
Use a compass to draw a circle on the cardboard square. Use the paintbrush to apply white craft glue all the way around the circle.
Place two sugar cubes, foam blocks or moulded clay pieces so that they form a 5 cm gap on the edge of the circle. The opening between the two cubes forms the entrance to the igloo.
Work clockwise around the circle, placing cubes or blocks until only the 5 cm gap remains. Reapply glue, as needed, if it dries before you put all the blocks or cubes in place.
Apply glue to the tops of each cube or block and lay a second run, placing each cube or block across the two blocks beneath it. Place this row of blocks 1 cm towards the centre, rather than directly on top, of the previous row. Repeat until you have five rows of blocks, sloping toward the centre of the igloo.
Allow the bottom half of the igloo to dry overnight while you start the top half on a second sheet of cardboard. Do not glue the first run of blocks to the cardboard sheet.
Stack cubes or blocks for three to six more layers, gluing each layer to the previous one. Stop adding layers when your igloo has a hole in the top that is 2.5 cm in diameter or smaller. Allow the top half of your igloo to dry overnight.
Apply white glue to the top edge of all the blocks in the bottom half of your igloo. Carefully position the top half of the igloo directly on top of the bottom half, and allow it to dry overnight.
Finish your igloo by making the tunnel entrance. Face the opening in your igloo. Place three blocks in line with each of the two starting blocks, coming toward you. Apply glue to the bottom of each block before replacing it in its correct position.
Apply glue to the tops of each block of the first two rows on each side of the tunnel entrance and place the next row of blocks. The blocks on row two should be placed 1 cm closer together than the first row. Add more rows of blocks, applying glue between each layer, until there is no gap at the top between the two rows.
Allow the tunnel to dry overnight before attempting to move your igloo.
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