How to Make an Igloo in Your Backyard


Building an igloo is a creative way for a family or adult-supervised group to spend a snowy day outdoors. Preschool children can help compact snow bricks, while older children can lay the lower bricks in place, helping the adults strategize shape and construction. Everybody can fill in the gaps in the snow as the igloo takes shape. The completed igloo will retain body heat to provide a cozy place for winter games and make-believe. Fires or heat sources such as stoves should not be used in the igloo and are not needed for warmth.

Things You'll Need

  • Snow
  • Hand saw

Pack and Stack

  • Mark a circle in the snow no larger than 10 feet across where the igloo will be built. A larger igloo would be difficult to construct.

  • Compact snow into bricks about 1.5 feet wide, 1.5 feet high and 6 inches deep. The larger the bricks, the stronger and safer the walls will be. Bricks can also be cut from areas of heavily compacted snow. Children can create mounds of snow and stamp them down with their feet, and an adult can cut the bricks with a carpenter’s saw.

  • Place the snow bricks around the outside of the marked circle. Use the saw to cut a ramp through the foundation bricks, starting at the top of one brick and working downward smoothly through the bricks beside it and ending at the ground. The ramp should go around about a quarter of the first layer of the igloo. As the second row is added, place the bricks up the ramp. This will cause a spiral pattern in the rows that helps create stability.

  • Continue adding bricks in a circular pattern around the igloo until there is a small circular hole at the top of the igloo. Fill in the gaps between bricks with snow.

  • Create a round block to fit the center hole.

  • Dig an entrance under the bottom row of the igloo or cut an entrance. To cut an entrance, find a vertical seam in the bottom row where two full-sized bricks meet, not on the ramp side of the igloo. Remove half a brick on either seam, leaving a full-sized brick as a door head. Cut an arch shape into the overhead brick, leaving the top half intact. The door should be large enough to crawl through, but small enough to keep cold air out of the igloo.

  • Cut an air hole about the size of an adult fist high in the side of the igloo. Keep this hole clear.

Tips & Warnings

  • Sprinkling or lightly spraying the outside of the igloo with water and allowing it to freeze will add strength to the igloo walls.
  • Make sure your ceiling air hole remains open.
  • Always supervise children while they are playing in or around the igloo. Never allow anyone to climb on the igloo; this could cause a dangerous cave-in.
  • Check the completed igloo regularly to make sure the walls are still sound.
  • Never light a fire or candle or use a stove inside the igloo. The heat can melt the walls, making the igloo unsafe.

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  • Photo Credit Photick/Laurence Mouton/Photick/Getty Images
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