BELGRADE -- Kerry Anselmi, a kindergarten teacher at Ridge View Elementary, has found a fun way to teach her students about the Inuit people.

Her 40 students are building a full-size igloo in their Belgrade classroom out of milk jugs they've been saving since September.

The 4-foot-tall structure, made of one-gallon milk containers, has been carefully hot glued together. One of the kindergarteners, Elijah, explained that since the glue is so hot, his teacher did all the gluing and he did all the milk drinking.

"I drink milk everyday and I've brought in probably four bags of milk cartons," Elijah said.

Another student, Morgan, said she doesn't like milk, but she's still bringing in cartons.

"My brother and my dad usually drink milk. Then my mom saves the cartons for me," she said.

Since the plastic igloo started to take shape, the rest of the school has watched in wonder.

"Now we have students from different classes bringing in clean milk jugs for us," Anselmi said.

Even the school secretaries and the principal are drinking for the cause.

At the front of the igloo is a large opening, so students can crawl inside and play with Inuit "artifacts." An animal skin on the floor of the igloo is surrounded by beaded moccasins, a deerskin shirt and intricately woven basket with a plastic fish.

As kindergarteners Rielyn and Lucia played in the igloo Thursday morning, they earnestly warned each other to be careful.

"Don't wiggle the igloo," Rielyn cautioned.

Lucia gently touched the milk jugs.

"I brought in the ones with the red tops," she said.

"And I brought in the ones with the green tops," Rielyn added.

The girls also shared their knowledge about Inuit culture, describing Inuits living without TVs and hunting whales for food. They also talked about real igloos built out of ice and what Inuits do for fun.

The jugs are also helpful with other lessons, Anselmi said.

"They learn mathematics from counting the jugs, they're learning patterning from the colored tops," she said.

And when the igloo is completed, Anselmi will start teaching her students about recycling.

To date, the kids have assembled 350 jugs and Anselmi anticipates it will take another 150 gallon jugs to build the dome top and finish the project.

Meanwhile, the students are happy reading and playing in the plastic fortress.

"You put something like this in the classroom and the students really learn something," Anselmi said.

And they grow strong bones while doing it.

Hannah Stiff can be reached at hstiff@dailychronicle.com