By Snowy Sabel, age 11
I made a giant Morgan horse for my fifth-grade state float project at Corte Madera School in Portola Valley.
Each year, as part of the study of U.S. history, fifth-graders at Corde Madera participate in a float-making project and a parade, held in the school's parking lot.
Each fifth-grader is assigned a state and asked to make a float for it. My state was Vermont. Since I like animals, I decided that I wanted my float to be an animal.
Making giant things is always more fun, so I decided to build a giant horse, a Morgan horse, which is Vermont's state animal. My float was 14 feet high and 18 feet long!
I designed and scaled a drawing of the horse, so that I would know how long to make the wooden pieces in the frame of the horse. I built two separate frame halves and attached them together to make a whole frame.
The next step was the chicken wire, so that it would take the shape of a real horse. This took me more time than making the frame, but in the end it looked great.
I tried to paper-mache the horse, but the horse was too big, and the paper became too heavy and fell off. After some family brainstorming, we came up with the idea of wrapping the entire horse in masking tape. This worked, but took a long time.
Next came the spray paint, and a mane and tail made from strips of brown painter's paper.
The horse was done, but the job was not. I still needed to move the horse to school. Adding a frame and wheels helped, but I still had to transport it five miles to school, down a long winding hill. This presented a whole new challenge.
There were approximately 80 floats in the parade, held on May 16. Most of the floats were pulled on red wagons or tricycles.
Next year, the school plans to reinforce new scale parameters, as the organizers were not expecting the size of my horse.
Editor's note: Snowy's mom Jane Leibowitz says: "Snowy completely conceived, designed and drove this project. She worked on every part of the process. She did get help from her dad, Joeseph Sabel, with some hard-to-reach things and when using the table saw, and as an extra pair of hands for holding things up. Both of her parents and a friendly neighbor helped to 'drive' the horse down the hill between two cars down the hill to school."