The smell of gingerbread, the whistling of the wind, the chill in the air... It must be time to pull out the gingerbread theme! While the kids are getting excited about the holidays, we like to keep them busy and focused so that we are still learning through play. I've gathered 15 plus activities that we have been using in the classroom these past few days...
1. Here they are in the art center decorating their cinnamon covered gingerbread boys and girls.
This is a two stage project, so this may be numbers 1 and 2. First they will paint their cut out gingerbread with glue and sprinkle it with lots of cinnamon. They love this because I let them squeeze as much glue as the want , as opposed to the times when we are only using tiny drops of glue. Squeeeeeze away!
This activity definitely warrants supervision as the fine cinnamon creates a cloud that trickles your nose!
Decorating is also super fun. This is a great way to use your odds and ends... we can use buttons, sequence, pompom balls, rickrack and foam pieces. It is a time to be creative and fun. I always ask the parents to bring little things from around the home for this activity and for futures activities like our snowmen we do in January.
2. Play with felt board gingerbread men.
We added several sized gingerbread people and their cute little outfits that the kids can explore with different ideas and concepts: sizes, family, retelling of the story. Endless learning opportunities.
3. Small motor center. Here we have again odds and ends and a rubber form. We added sparkle and glamour for this set. The kids really enjoyed the special heart crystal pieces.
4. Make ornaments
This is super easy and last forever! I actually have mine from childhood and I make them every year with my own little ones. They are cute, easy to make and smell delicious!
There are only 3 ingredients: glue, apple sauce and tons of cinnamon. Vaguely, the recipe is:
1/2 cup of glue
1 cup of apple sauce
2 cups of cinnamon
But again, the recipe is never a for sure thing. I just play with it until it feels right. Roll it thick, cut them, use a skewer to draw on it and make sure to punch a hole at the top to weave ribbon through. There are tons of different ways of doing this on Pinterest. Some people will ice it, but I've never done that. If you do, use puffy paint. I just think they are lovely. Let them dry until solid. We hang them on our tree and send them home as a memory at our holiday party.
5. Bake real cookies!
We can have fun with math too!
6. In centers they use their number sense cards and match up the different cards to the number of gingerbread people on a baking tray.
Here is a video of the kids in class learning the concept before playing independently. There is also a cute little son in there.
Here is a different version of the game...
(The activities in the video could have been 7 and 8) ;)
7. Counting cookies from a cookie jar. They can independently count and match the number of cookies to the numerals. Or I like to tell stories and make theme act them out and think through it.
8. A different version of cookies in a cookie jar where you have a variety of shapes. Great for vocabulary building. We used holiday erasers found over the years to change up the materials, but practice the same activity.
9. The reading basket. We always have a variety of thematic books for them to "read" and explore with each other. I read books from this collection. I always start with the original The Gingerbread Man story, but there are so many cute variations of the story... We read them throughout the unit and then make comparisons.
This is a fantastic variation of our old favorite. I like to systematically expose the kids to variations on a theme. It gives them an opportunity to explore similarities and differences.
10. The story board
As we explore the gingerbread stories, we create a chart to compare different components of the story: title, setting, main character, (who chases, who eats him, story ending).
I love the gingerbread story because it has different variations and it is easy for the little ones to break down the elements of the story: the setting, sequencing, problem and solution, beginning, middle and end. Of course I don't teach all of these at once, but these books open the opportunity dependent upon your child's age and development.
11. Creating New Stories
After discussing and comparing the varying stories, I put out the story basket with gingerbread characters (boy, girl, etc) and unique types of characters and setting to let the children take flight and create their own versions.
It is so adorable to see and hear what they come up with. As a culminating activity for the end of the year celebration, the class writes their version of the story and we do a short performance for the parents. It is always a big hit! And the parents love it!!!
Here an example: The little gingerbread girl ran through the forest. Along came a dinosaur. "You can't catch me!" "I ran away from a girl and a reindeer, and you can't catch me!". Chomp! lol
12. Question of the day
Each morning during check in, our kids are asked a question. This helps our beginning readers. The questions usually have repeated text to reinforce word recognition and beginning sight words. (i.e.: Do you like gingerbread cookies?)
13. Part of our circle time routine, we have a student of the day who helps and leads the class through the day. This time of the year we call them the ELF of the day. We use little gingerbread family shapes to describe their families.
14. We use cookie shapes for our vocabulary activity. Below is a video of our Silly Willy activity. It is a fun and engaging way to introduce vocabulary to our little ones.
15. Make snowmen lanterns! These are supper easy. All you need are:
White acrylic pain
Craft paper (black circles and pointy orange triangles)
Socks from the dollar store
Small battery operated tealight
Below is a list of printed materials used in this blog. Click on the image and it will take you directly to the product on Teachers Pay Teachers: