It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Each and every year for as long as I can remember (because I’ve been teaching for 9,000 years) I’ve wrapped up the last day before Christmas break with a gingerbread day!
We all know that the last few days are a hot mess. So for my first year of gingerbread fun, it was purely for teacher survival, but it’s evolved into my favorite day of the year.
I thought I’d share some of the best ways to make a gingerbread day for your kiddos. This can be as in depth or as easy as you want. Since I’ve been doing this for awhile, I have enough materials to stretch it to a gingerbread week, but you can start off smaller.
First, read all the gingerbread man-girl-boy books you can get your hands on. The kids LOVE them. Here are my favorites and the ones I use for activities in my class. You can click on the books and it will take you to amazon to purchase them. All of these have the predictive text that your students can read along with. This is great for your struggling readers who have trouble keeping up.
Make sure you have read all the books before starting a project. I usually stretch them out and read one a day when we’re getting close to break.
The Day Before...
The day before, we make our gingerbread craft!
Use this template as tracers for students to make a gingerbread man out of brown construction paper, or photocopy onto brown paper. How they make the gingerbread craft is up to you. The most important part is that they can identify their gingerbread man if it “runs away”. So the students should have choices about colors and decorations.
Here are some ideas:
- They can choose to make a girl or a boy.
- Some years I’ve been brave and made glitter buttons.
- This year I have this stash of old buttons just sitting there, so I’ll probably use those.
- Use a light color crayon (yellow, white, pink) to make frosting bands on the arms and legs.
- Googly Eyes are always a hit!
- Use ribbon or yarn to make a bow. They can tie a bow around the neck, but that’s sometimes hard. If you have time, you can make pre-made bows that they can glue onto their craft where they choose.
- Pass out sharpies or gel pens to decorate their faces. I don’t use markers often, so when I do, the kiddos know it’s for something special.
- Demonstrate different faces they can use to decorate their craft.
Complete the gingerbread craft the day before you want to have him/her “run away.” Tell the students that they will sit on the counter (or where you choose) overnight to let the glue dry.
- Pay attention to the way your students make the gingerbread craft. You will want to choose a student who will notice right away that their craft is missing. You’ll also want to choose someone who will remember how they decorated their craft. (Helpful tip: Do NOT choose a student who will be extremely upset if their gingerbread craft runs away. You want this to be fun, not traumatic.)
- After the students leave, enlist the help of different staff members to hide the gingerbread man. Here are some ideas….
- Library where he/she can read Christmas books.
- Social Worker’s office where he/she can talk about feelings.
- Principal’s office where he/she is in trouble for running away.
- Gym where he can put his running to the test.
- Hide the gingerbread man you chose.
- Send out a staff email letting them know what activity you are doing and to “play along” if your students ask them if they’ve seen a gingerbread man running around the school.
The day of...
- First thing in the morning, call on groups of students to bring their craft to you to hang up. I always choose a group WITH the student who has the missing gingerbread craft. That way they start looking and have time to realize it’s missing.
- As you’re hanging up the crafts, they will start coming up to you to tell them they can’t find the craft. This is when you will start your Oscar Winning Performance! Tell them, “It’s got to be there, keep looking!”
- Once they are all hung up, tell the students that “___’s gingerbread man is missing, can you help me look for it?” They will look all around the room… and eventually (since you’ve read all the books) one will suggest that he/she ran away. If not, you can lead them to this conclusion.
- Ask your students what we should do to find the craft. Suggestions include:
- Calling the principal
- Emailing the staff
- Searching the school
- Make “Missing” Posters. There is a template in this unit. Make sure to encourage your students to describe him/her. Post the posters around the school as you search.
- Search all over the school with your kiddos. EVEN the teacher’s lounge! It’s a big deal!
- BONUS: In years past, I’ve had teachers help “trash” my room while we were at lunch, the students. come back and find cookies and books scattered everywhere!
- Reveal! Lead them to where you hid the gingerbread man, they will be so excited to find him/her!
This leads to fantastic writing projects! They can write about their adventures in their journals or in some of the materials included in THIS UNIT.
I would LOVE to hear if this helps you maintain your Christmas teacher sanity as well as making an unbelievably fun day for you and your kiddos. Please know that there will be another teacher in survival mode wearing her gingerbread socks on the last day before break!
For more gingerbread activities, check out what my friend Amber at Learn, Grow, Blossom has!