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Tree Houses Can Too Have Alligators and Fireplaces

Students Design Imaginary Treetop Dwellings

Marshall VanWagoner has a tree house at home, but said the similarities are few between it and the one he recently made in art class.

“Mine (at home) has 2-by-4s holding it up and I literally painted the floor of that one black too,” pointed out the Murray Lake Elementary fifth-grader. “But it doesn’t have a fireplace or a bathroom, and you can’t park cars in it.”

Faith VanDuinen paints Keagan Fitch’s palm so she can add a print to the roof of their tree house. Not pictured is partner Taylor Rasch

As part of their unit on space and form, art teacher Nicole Bosco had just two requirements for her assignment to construct a dream tree house: that it be elevated and that it be constructed using cardboard boxes. The details were limited only by her students’ imaginations.

Sam Stevens and Victor Preis made one with a helipad, a satellite station and “a pet alligator to protect everything,” Sam explained.

Emma Bruwer and Ellery Ostrander’s had cathedral ceilings, a loft and a second-floor fireplace they “patented” so nobody else could copy their design.

“They really like it because they get to be creative and to play while they’re learning,” Bosco said.

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Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema
Morgan Jarema is a reporter and copy editor, covering East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills and Northview. She is a Grand Rapids native and a product of Grand Rapids Public Schools, including Brookside and West Leonard elementaries, City Middle/High School and Ottawa Hills. She found her tribe in journalism in 1997 and has never wanted to do anything but write. For 15 years she was a freelance journalist for The Grand Rapids Press, covering local schools and government, religion, business, home & garden and lifestyles. She and her husband, John, think even those without kiddos should be invested in their local schools and made to feel a part of them. Read Morgan's full bio or email Morgan.


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