Skills Building: Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans (PK - 5)

Unit 12 Book - Marvelous Cornelius

Written by Phil Bildner, illustrated by John Parra

Pre- Reading Questions 

  1. Think of a problem that you had recently. What was the problem and how did you solve it? 
  2. There are some problems that we can try to fix on our own and some that we need others to help us solve. When do you know when there is a problem that you can solve or a problem that you need help solving? 
  3. Do you feel comfortable asking others for help when you have a problem? When are you comfortable? When are you uncomfortable?

Post- Reading Questions

  1. This week we are talking about problem-solving, what is one thing you learned about problem-solving from this book? 
  2. What are some of the problems that Marvelous Cornelius helped solve in his community? 
  3. What are some problems in your community? How could you work to solve them? 
  4. After Hurricane Katrina, Marvelous Cornelius felt overwhelmed by the amount of trash and debris that was piled up in his beautiful city and said it would take millions of him to clean it. The community, and people from around the world, came together to help New Orleans rebuild after Katrina. How can others help us when we have problems?

Creative Enrichment Activity: Creating Treasures out of Trash (PK - 5)


In the book Marvelous Cornelius, Cornelius took care of his city and after Hurricane Katrina, worked together with people from all over the world to clean up and repair New Orleans. In this activity, you will use trash to create a piece of art! You can create anything you want with any materials available. Work together with your small group to solve the problem of creating something from “nothing”!


  • Trash (paper scraps, water bottles, toilet paper/paper towel rolls, etc)
  • Markers
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Glue sticks
  • Construction paper
  • Card stock as a base (one per group)


40-45 minutes (for staff: 5-minute pre-activity setup, 5-minute prep)

  • 5 minutes: Introduce the activity using the book and examples.
  • 5 minutes: Place students in groups of 3-4, group decides on group leader
  • 5 minutes: One person per group collects trash (laid out on a table)
  • 15-20 minutes: Small groups work together to create their trash sculpture
  • 5 minutes: Clean up
  • 5 minutes: Reflect and share


  1. Introduce the activity using the book. 
  2. Split the students up into small groups of about 3 to 4 students. 
  3. Students work together to decide who will be the Marvelous Trash Collector and who will be the Showtime! Presenter of the group. The Marvelous Trash Collector will go to the table with the trash and collect the materials. 
  4. Students will work together to create a sculpture made out of trash. They can use scissors, markers, tape, or glue to construct their sculpture. Use the cardstock as a base for the sculpture. 
  5. Clean up the materials. 
  6. Reflect as a large group and share sculptures.

Reflection Questions

  • How did it feel to work as a small group to create the sculpture? 
  • Did your group have any problems or disagreements? How did you solve them? 
  • How did you decide to build? 
  • How do you feel about your finished product? 
  • Allow each small group to share their sculpture. The Showtime! Presenter will stand at the front of the large group to present their sculpture. 
Trash Sculpture