At South Mountain, Making Kingdoms Out Of Trash

Your garbage is these kids’ treasure.

By Chibueze Achebe, Violet Christian, Hannah Jackson, and Aaron Saunders

Students at South Mountain Elementary School are making royal castles fit for kings and queens. (and maybe monsters, too).  Their treasure? The stuff we routinely toss in the trash.

“We are trying to make a model of a castle for our movie, Born by the Dead,” said Anya and Alice, third graders, with big dreams. 

Anya’s grandfather is an inventor and Alice’s friend is a filmmaker, so they’re serious about making their movie happen, the girls said.

The girls, working on their prop just like real filmmakers, talked about their project while painting “poisonous” glue onto their Vampire Castle. And while their corner of the classroom was all about the dark arts, there really isn’t anything sinister about this eco-friendly class.

The students were creating and painting the day we stopped by for a visit at the After-School Scholars’ Castles and Kingdoms class, their palaces rising from their imaginations.

“I love that this class is very fun and very creative,” said their teacher Maia Gilman. “And very, very messy.”

Last semester, Gilman taught an architecture class titled This time, instead of building our towns, the students were using recycled materials to create, well as its name implies, castles and kingdoms.

They were using all kinds of boxes, cereal boxes, waffle boxes, frozen dinners, pizza boxes, egg cartons – and lots of creativity.

“I think it takes a lot of energy to recycle, so we should use things more than once,” Gilman said. “Everybody has recycling, so it’s easy to get. It’s also very good material for building.”

Abigail, a 2nd grader, was making a “Hidden Castle,” tucked away on a corner of an island. “I really like to build things,” she said.

Johannes, a 2nd grader, was using tissue paper, boxes, and toilet paper rolls to build a castle, “or something close to a castle,” he said.

“It’s all recycled, and this little one,” said the parent volunteer pointing to a student focused on her gluing, “doesn’t even want to waste a tissue.”

This article was reported and written by South Mountain Elementary students Chibueze Achebe, Violet Christian, Hannah Jackson, and Aaron Saunders, aspiring journalists in the South Mountain After-School Scholars program.


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