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Gingerbread House Math

You’re in the homestretch before school lets out for winter break. Students may be distracted with anticipation of the open vacation days ahead. Their thoughts may be turning to games and special meals with family and friends, winter walks, or just curling up on the couch with a beloved dog or cat and a favorite movie.

How do elementary teachers meet the challenge of keeping kids motivated in the week leading up to seasonal holiday break time? Here’s one idea to toss into the mix: the Gingerbread House Math Project.

This math-learning project, spread out over the course of a week, is beautifully described and photographed here. Yes, the kids get to design and build their own gingerbread house. Except, in the classroom they’ll do their construction with graham crackers, available in inexpensive boxes at the grocery store. Collaborating in partnership pairs is fun and encouraged.

Before building, they’ll need to set the groundwork with planning. First, students design a floor plan with the area and perimeter of about six graham crackers. They’ll work with shapes like rectangles, squares, and triangles. Math skills include multiplication, addition, and fractions. This hands-on project can even help students with the concept of multiplying fractions. See more details and a floor plan drawing here.

When students complete a good plan, they’re ready to start building. To glue the pieces together, you’ll need “royal icing” on hand. This kind of icing hardens completely, unlike regular icing––assuring that the roof doesn’t slide off! Students can decorate their “gingerbread” houses with delicious sprinkles of choice, like chocolate chips and multi-colored M&Ms. Kids will have fun with math, and feel pride in their craftsmanship. 

Make it with real gingerbread at home

And why not continue the Gingerbread House Math Project once winter break begins? Students can build with actual gingerbread they make at home with parents. Baking cookies is always a warm and delicious way to practice measurements.

First, students need to assemble and measure ingredients.

Here’s one recipe:

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup molasses

1 and ½ teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon of allspice

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon of cloves

2 teaspoons of baking soda

½ cup of margarine or canola oil

1 egg, beaten

3 and ½ cups of all-purpose flour

Then, have a look here for mixing, rolling, cutting, and cooking directions:

And this article offers variation on the gingerbread recipe, plus instructions on how to make the icing. It provides step-by-step guidance on cookie baking, icing making, and cottage assembly and decoration. The whole family can enjoy this holiday project, and students can keep up math skills over the holidays in a most delightful way.

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