As I do a lot of building in schools as part of social studies curriculum, I've had to be creative as how to keep costs from going through the roof. Teachers dont make enough money.
One of the best things I've learned is that one man's waste is another man's treasure. Specifically when that waste is terrain building materials.
Latex house paint is great for painting buildings, hills and groundwork, but at 30 dollars a gollon, not really that cheap. Not when you want several colours anyway. Possibly not a problem for individual builders, but when 30 kids are making a board, you need the paint.
Solution: Mistinted paint in your local paint store. People buy the paint, find it doesnt look quite right, then return it. paint store sells it off at 1/4 to 1/3 the original price. Big boards just got a lot more affordable.
Another great source of material is the local recycling center. You may have to ask permission to go and grab stuff, in fact that proably a very good idea if its any bigger than a local curbside depot.
once you get the ok, go to town. Styrofoam is going straight to the landfill from there, unless you liberate it, carve it up, and paint it with your already obtained cheap latex paint.
Another nice feature is that packaging styrofoam is often cast into circular and dome shapes, which gives you some nice chances to be creative with your buildings.

9/23/2009 22:29:07

I like your idea about recycling centers. Hadn't thought of that.

- John Paul


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