Staff and students at Eric Langton Elementary School in Maple Ridge decided what kind of home they would like to live in.
But not in the real world – in a hobbit world that a school teaching assistant created to decorate the shop window in honor of Earth Day.
Most want to live in the high house on a branch with a pink door and a miniature stick bridge. Others like the teapot house with the hidden blue door in the corner that has a small chess set sitting on a small log table. But there are others, eight in total, as well as a wooden bridge over a pond, a log staircase, a tea table for two, and a purple tissue paper wisteria hanging from the Mountain peak.
The Land of the Hobbit was created by Paula Gross who was inspired by story workshops at school – when students collect trinkets from bins to spark their creativity and write a story.
She thought it wouldn’t be wonderful to create her own little world. Then she looked at the empty storefront and decided to create a special world for the students.
Gross described the project as a labor of love.
“I created it because I thought people might like it,” the humble artist said.
So over the past two weeks she has started picking up things like broken pots and plates, broken bottles, branches, moss, pebbles, broken glass and sticks.
She only had to buy a few items at the store. However, the bill for the whole display was only about $5.
“I also wanted to show that you don’t have to be rich to create because that’s all you find in nature,” Gross noted.
Gross worked from home, an hour here and there, assembling the houses, then assembled the storefront in about five hours after school earlier this week for Earth Day.
Gross admits that she has artistic inclinations and comes from a family of artists. She also paints, but has never exhibited her work outside the walls of her home. However, she herself was amazed when the whole project came to fruition.
She even included an “I Spy” item on display with a list of items to find displayed on the side of the case for students to search for – and the items aren’t easy to find.
Gross says this helps students calm down when looking for the different items.
“Then we go back to class and they’re ready to learn again,” she said.
“We had no idea she had this talent,” said Jennifer Simon, principal of Eric Langton Elementary School. “People were just amazed.”
Simon is going to keep the miniature village on display longer than Earth Day. Gross says they can decorate it for different occasions, like with snow for Christmas and small lanterns for Chinese New Year.
The storefront below remains empty, prompting Gross to consider extending the basement of the village.
Just seeing how much joy the village has brought to people makes Gross’ efforts worth it.
“I would do it again,” Gross said. “I would go all out because people enjoyed it and that’s what you hope for.”
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