Art teacher’s larger-than-life snow sculptures encouraging students to play outside amid remote learning

An art teacher in Rhode Island is bringing smiles to her students’ faces with her larger-than-life snow sculptures.

Katina Gustafson hopes her snow art inspires the kids to get outside and enjoy the winter weather, despite not having traditional snow days anymore because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I do encourage the kids to get outside, play in the snow," she told FOX Television Stations on Saturday. 

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Gustafson teaches art at Riverside Middle School in East Providence, Rhode Island. She said her school has a mixture of in-person and remote learning and, whenever there is inclement weather, students are asked to log in to school at home instead of getting a day off.

Katina Gustafson sculpts a gumball machine out of snow in March 2019. (Credit: Katina Gustafson)

Gustafson said this leaves students with little time - and little motivation - to enjoy the snow.

"There’s a lot of kids that have a lot of energy," she said. "And I think just going outside and just throwing snow, rolling the balls, making a snowman would really help."

Gustafson said she always enjoyed snow sculpting as a hobby during her childhood. Some of her wintery masterpieces include a Starbucks coffee cup, a doughnut and a gumball machine. 

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She said it takes her a few hours to put together the sculptures.

She also gets input from her students as to what she should make next and how to build it. Some previous ideas included a dirt bike, using icicles for the wheel spokes.

During the summer, Gustafson creates sidewalk art with chalk to inspire children to get outside and enjoy the warm weather.

"I really encourage kids to get outside because it’s fresh air," she said. "It’s nice."

This story was reported from Los Angeles.