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Igloo ignites reading for Sycamore students

SYCAMORE – A special treat was waiting for South Prairie Elementary School students when they crept into the school’s darkened library one January morning.

In the middle of the library sat a giant igloo of empty milk jugs, lit up with seven strands of red and blue lights and surrounded by books.

The students were ecstatic.

“It was absolutely fantastic,” said South Prairie librarian Sue McCue.

The igloo, comprising more than 400 milk jugs, is one of the ways the librarians at South Prairie Elementary School, 820 Borden Ave., Sycamore, try to make reading more appealing to students from kindergarten to fifth grade.

“We do anything we can to encourage the kids to read more,” McCue said.

During their library time Thursday, more than 20 third-graders carried around flashlights in the dark, reading books throughout the library. Many students took their books and flashlights inside the igloo to read.

McCue said she got the idea from one of her fellow reference librarians at the Sycamore Public Library. McCue and Tammy Johnston from the Sycamore Public Library, Sycamore School District 427 art teacher Ross Martin and South Prairie Elementary School technology specialist Joe McCormick all worked to build the igloo.

The secret behind its construction was plenty of hot glue, McCue said. As the milk jugs slowly started to pile in for the project and the igloo construction began, the students started to bring in the jugs more quickly, eager to see the final product.

Third-grader Tyler Hartmann said the best part about the igloo is its structure.

“It’s pretty cool how it was made,” he said.

Tyler wasn’t the only one who was amazed by the masterpiece. Classmate Abby Johns said she likes the idea that so many students contributed to the construction of the igloo, as well.

“It was made by everyone,” she said. “Everyone brought in the milk jugs.”

Abby said she not only enjoyed having the igloo in the library but also liked reading the books that surrounded the igloo. Books such as “Antarctic Antics,” “Recess at 20 Below” and “Look Inside an Igloo” have given students the opportunity to learn more about igloos and their surrounding environment.

As part of the school’s Scholastic Book Fair next week, McCue and the other librarians will transform the igloo into a giant brain to go along with the theme of “Reading Gives You Super Power.”

They will paint the igloo and label it with tissue paper to represent the different parts of the brain. She said the students will have the opportunity to read inside the brain, too.

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