It’s that time of year again: tinsel, lights, gifts and carols. If you didn’t have enough reasons to get excited for Christmas, here’s another... Gingerbread House Day! You can almost taste the gingerbread just by saying it...mmm!
What’s it all about?
The exact origin of Gingerbread House Day is still ambiguous. The first ‘revelation’ of a house made out of gingerbread is in Hansel and Gretel. After this, it is said that Germans began creating festive gingerbread houses to celebrate Christmas. The idea of making these tasty treats then became widespread.
Gingerbread House Day can be as simple, or as complicated, as you’d like it to be. For some of your students, it may be a family tradition to make gingerbread houses leading up to Christmas. This won’t be the case for all of the children, but why not make it a classroom tradition at your setting?
Yum... But Does This Day Support Children’s Learning and Development?
Personal Social, Emotional Development:
Making a Gingerbread House as a group allows children to make positive relationships with others. They will be playing co-operatively and taking turns.
They should also manage their behaviour and not be impulsive.
Participating in this day will help your little ones to be more confident when speaking in a familiar group. Their self-confidence will also be developed as they say when they do or don’t need help.
Children should be handling the resources as independently as possible. Encourage children to use the vocabulary of manipulation, e.g. ‘squeeze’.
Children will be able to show good control and co-ordination in their movements.
They will have to move safely, negotiating space with others; and handling (sometimes one-handed) resources appropriately.
Talk with children about the importance of hand-washing, this develops their knowledge of self-care.
Communication & Language:
Children will need to listen to instructions and follow them in order to make the Gingerbread House.
You can assess their understanding by checking whether they respond to questions with appropriate comments.
If children are speaking about what they did previously; what they are doing now and what they will do next; then they will be developing their speech skills too! Always repeat their comments back to them in a full sentence with the correct inflections on verbs.
For children that have some phonic knowledge, you can ask them to say the initial sound of a given word.
Children that have not yet had a turn can draw the gingerbread house and attempt to write about it (mark-make).
You will be using number words while decorating; have numerals nearby too to reinforce number recognition.
Request children to count items using one-to-one correspondence and find the matching numeral themselves.
Create patterns and ask children to predict which colour/shape will come next.
Draw children’s attention to the various shapes.
Use prepositional language (under, in, next to etc.)
Encourage estimation of quantities also!
Understanding the World:
Explain that Christmas was originally celebrated by Christians but has become a popular event worldwide; strengthen the positive impressions children have of their own cultures and faiths by asking about some of their special events such as Diwali, Ramadan, Hanukkah etc.
Expressive Arts and Design:
Talk about children’s growing interest in and use of colour as they begin to find differences between colours.
Introduce vocabulary to enable children to talk about different textures e.g. ’smooth’ ‘rough’ ‘prickly’ ‘flat’ ‘bumpy’ ‘soft’ and ‘hard’.
If for some reason (perhaps allergies) you are unable to decorate a gingerbread house, then you could physically make one like this! Transforming your Home Corner or Reading Area with the children would be an unforgettable project for them!