There’s not quite “a million” boxes sitting in the corners of Glacier Edge Elementary School third grade classrooms, as one student estimated last week, but there’s a couple hundred, so it’s pretty close.

They’re being used to teach third graders how to design their own model city for the upcoming Terrace Town event at Monona Terrace next month.

And when you’re building a city, third grade teacher Kayleen DeWerd said, getting the boxes is the easy part.

“Parents are amazing because we say we’re doing this project, and we need boxes,” she said. “We have so many boxes, it’s been great.”

The box city will be on display at the Terrace Town event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1. Held at Monona Terrace, the event aims to get kids involved with architecture, design and city planning through the construction of a model city made out of boxes. Terrace Town happens every other year since its inception in 2000, tourism coordinator Heather Sabin wrote in an email to the Press.

The event will include 15 schools, including New Century School in the Verona Area School District, as well as schools from Sun Prairie, Madison, Middleton-Cross Plains and Oregon, Sabin said.

DeWerd said when she and third grade teachers Nikki Borchardt and Katie Wallace develop the curriculum for the project, they incorporate as many science, math and social studies elements as possible, bringing in guest speakers to educate students on what a city needs to thrive.

Part of the project involves having third graders learn what needs to be in a city so it can operate, and what can be added to make a city more appealing to live in.

As of last week, the student’s fictional model city of Dolphin Bay had many essentials – a fire station, waste treatment plant, city hall, elementary school and a park – as well as extras, such as a Starbucks, an ice cream shop, a senior living facility and a hotel.

“They’re really thinking about all of the things that we need,” DeWerd said.

To decide on the name of the model city, students were brought to City Hall, where staff set up the polling booths so students could “vote” on what they wanted it to be called.

City of Verona community development specialist Katherine Holt has helped guide students through the process of creating the city and making thoughtful choices about its design.

She said students have learned about zoning ordinances, using the example of jumping on the bed. If you’re not allowed to jump on the bed, she posed to the students, are you allowed to slightly jump on the bed?

It was something the students pondered over, Holt said, but ultimately decided was a not allowed because of the limitation prohibited it altogether.

Holt also educated students on how cities are planned out with residential and commercial areas and the scale of buildings, and encouraged them to think deeply about what kind of goods and services they use that they should consider including in their model city.

“Because they’re children, they think about their world, which is parks and walking and biking, and do you really need to have a car?” she said. “Their wheels, they just start turning and turning.”

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.​