How do You Build an Igloo?

2 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


Students will be able to compose informative texts where they explain what they are building and give detailed directions.

Big Idea

Want to know how to build an igloo? Let a kindergarten student tell you the steps to take.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I ask the students, “Can anyone recall a piece of information about the Inuit people?”

I select enough students to respond to this question to cover as many facts as they can.

“Those were all great facts that you told me. We are going to watch a very short video about an Inuit boy who is learning how to build an igloo from his father. Remember to watch and listen closely so you get an idea of how an igloo is built.”

Once the video clip is over I tell the students we are going to read a book about igloos.


I use this little video clip to refresh my students’ memory of our lesson on the Inuit people and also to give them some background knowledge on igloo making. 


55 minutes

“This book is called Look Inside an Igloo, written by Mari C. Schuh. This book is a non-fiction book which will help explain what an igloo is like. Can anyone tell me the features of a non-fiction book?”

I select enough students to respond to this question to cover the features of a non-fiction book. Features such as; a table of contents, pop-out words, labels, an index, and a glossary.

“Well done crew; you named lots of features of a non-fiction book. As we read this book we will keep an eye out for the features that you mentioned.”    


During reading we will discuss some of the new vocabulary words as we come across them within the text. Words such as; dome, vent, etc. We will review older vocabulary words such as; insulate, fat, etc.  


After reading I open up a blank screen on the SMARTBoard and we review some of the main facts we learned from the book. The students came up with these facts:

1. During the winter, most Inuit people used to live in igloos.

2. Igloos are domes made of snow and ice.
3. Inuit people lit lamps, which burned seal fat, which helped to light the igloo and keep it warm.

4. Inuit people built a shelf to sit and sleep on.  

5. Inuit people were warm and safe inside their igloos.

“Those are great facts you came up. Today I am going to lay out some supplies and you are going to build your own igloo. The supplies that will be available to you are;

  • White bowls
  • Half cylinders
  • Cotton balls
  • Sugar cubes, and
  • Liquid glue (I hold up a sample of each item as I mention it).”

“I am going to give you a rectangle piece of stiff cardboard for you to build your igloo on. Once you have built your igloo you will dictate the steps you took to make it to your recorder. Each of you will have your own recorder to write the steps down.”

Igloo Steps

For this activity I have enlisted the help of our middle school students. They are here purely to assist the kindergarten student they are assigned to. I have already gone over their role with them before they came to my classroom. They know they are only to be a sounding board for ideas, ask questions about the kindergartener’s choices and write down the steps taken as told by the kindergarten student.

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students off to work with their middle school partner anywhere in the classroom.

I walk around the classroom making sure everyone has the supplies they need and monitor conversations to make sure everyone is on task.

Student working on building an igloo     Working with a purpose     Working and dictating to a middle school student     

Allow the students 35-40 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.

Student telling me his steps so far.                  Students working with a middle school volunteer.


Students need to be taught how to write to inform as they will often be asked to explain the steps they took to come up with a product – this will occur both during the student’s educational years and out in the workforce. The more detailed they are when they explain their steps to another person; the more likely the other person will be able to understand and replicate the original piece of work. 


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look listen” technique mentioned above. “When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put their completed igloo on the back table to dry.

Room 203 Igloos 

Once the students are seated I tell them their exit slip for today is to tell me their favorite part of building the igloo.

“Your exit slip to get your snack today is to tell me your favorite part of the igloo building experience.”

I use the fair sticks to select the order of the students.

After a student has told me their favorite part they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. 


For this assignment I will use the How to Build an Igloo checklist to go over the students work to make sure they met the objectives set for the assignment. Once I have completed the checklist, I attach it to the students work and place it in their collection portfolio.

Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the objectives of the lesson. I am looking to see if the student is able to accurately follow the directions for the assignment which means they will meet the overall objective for the lesson. Did the student write their name on their work? Did the student accurately describe the steps they took to build their igloo? For this assignment I cannot look to see if the students work is neat and tidy because they were using a middle school student as a scribe.

Using checklists helps me to stay focused on what I am looking for in the student work and maintain a fair view of each student abilities. The checklists are also a good way to convey information to the student’s parents about how they are doing in the classroom during work time. 


The students practiced working together as a team with the P.E teacher to make an Igloo out of packing plastic wrap, gallon milk jugs and five gallon water bottles.